Boeing to temporarily stop 737 MAX production

Undelivered Boeing 737 MAX, stored at a production site. Photo: © SounderBruce

Boeing will temporarily suspend the production of the currently grounded 737 MAX jet, starting in January 2020.

This comes as re-certification of the aircraft type through the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is shifting into next year. Some airlines have removed the 737 MAX from their flight plans until at least March, indicating that the aircraft might end up being grounded for a whole year after flights were suspended in March 2019, following the crash of Etiopian Airlines flight ET304 – the second fatal accident of a 737 MAX 8.

FAA administrator Stephen Dickson recently said that the government agency does not set a specific timeline for the re-certification process.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who lost his Chairman role in October, had previously warned that the US-American aircraft manufacturer may be forced to stop production of the troubled jet if the grounding extends into 2020. While no airplanes have been delivered since the suspension of flights, Boeing did continue to build the aircraft type to avoid an impact on its production lines. The are approximately 400 undelivered 737 MAX currently in storage.

The 737 MAX is the fourth and latest generation of the 737, Boeing’s best-selling jet. It was introduced in 2017 with Malaysian low-cost carrier Batik Air, a subsidiary of Lion Air – the airline affected by the first crash of the type in October 2018. There are around 5000 firm orders for the aircraft type. Boeing did manage to receive a few new orders and commitments during the Paris Air Show in June and the Dubai Airshow in November this year, although it also received some cancellations since the beginning of the grounding.