Boeing on Monday announced that it will temporarily suspend the production of the 737 MAX aircraft in January. The manufacturer said in a statement that safely returning the 737 MAX to service is their top priority.
Boeing acknowledged that the process of approving the 737 MAX’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates.
The FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service, and Boeing said that the company is committed to supporting this process. “It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered” the statement said.
Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage.
Boeing previously stated that it would continually evaluate the production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than expected. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, the decision was made to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.
“We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health. This decision 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 we can prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft. We will continue to assess our progress towards return to service milestones and make determinations about resuming production and deliveries accordingly,” the statement continued.
Affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams in Puget Sound.
The 737 MAX aircraft were grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes.