737 MAX Production Suspended
The Boeing 737 Max catastrophe drags on, the company announcing on 16 December that it will be suspending production in January due to recertification of the grounded aircraft by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) moving into 2020.
Boeing had previously said it hoped the Max would be cleared to return to service before the end of 2019 and also restart deliveries, but this has not happened. The FAA has told Boeing it had unrealistic expectations for getting the 737 Max back into service and the company has already missed several return date estimates.
Other global regulators need to independently recertify the aircraft before deliveries to airlines in those countries can restart, and indeed, before already approved foreign-registered aircraft can even operate in them.
Boeing has continued producing the 737 Max at the reduced rate of 42 per month since it was grounded last March with the result that some 400 are in storage, in addition to the 387 delivered before the grounding.
Boeing says the production suspension is driven by a number of factors including the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that it can prioritise the delivery of stored aircraft.
It also says there will be no staff layoffs or furloughs for the moment: “It is our plan that during this time, affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams…. we will keep our customers, employees, and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess appropriate actions.”
It has been reported that FAA approval for the 737 Max to resume flying is now not likely to be granted until at least February 2020 and could be delayed until March.
Some airlines have stated it will take at least a month to get already delivered aircraft back into service by the time new software is installed, maintenance checks on long idle 737s are performed, and the necessary pilot training carried out.
by Stewart Wilson