By Cody Roark
Boeing announced on Monday that it will be suspending all production of its widely used 737 Max planes.
The 737 Max is Boeing’s most important aircraft, however, it has been grounded since March of 2019. That decision was made after repeated crashes in both Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people. The crashes rocked the aviation industry and Boeing to its core. Two deadly plane crashes within five months of each other, both killing every passenger on board.
Boeing has been attempting to get the planes back in the air since the decision to ground it in the first place. They’ve missed multiple estimates for the plane’s return to the industry. This proves the FAA correct in saying the company had unrealistic expectations for getting the aircraft back off the ground.
This is Boeing’s reasoning for the decision to suspend production. “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.”
It may be what they consider to be the least disruptive route to take, however it has still made waves in the aviation industry. Spirit AeroSystems’ shares went down 1.5% following the announcement. Tuesday morning the shares of major manufacturers, that normally supply Boeing with the necessary components for the Max, all went down during the early trading hours. The company’s largest rival, Airbus, had an increase in shares of 1.8% after Monday’s announcement. Southwest Airlines had been depending on the return of the 737 Max to update its fleet as well. Now they’ve had to push up the reinsertion of the Max from the next five weeks to April of next year, at best.
Boeing has said it has no plans of a layoff “during this time” for its 12,000 strong factory workforce. The company said that the affected employees will be able to continue 737-related work over the coming months, be reassigned to work on the 400 planes in storage, or be reassigned to other plants in the Seattle region.
Though the company has prioritized other aspects of production, Boeing still plans on resuming production of the 737 Max. The reintegration of the aircraft largely relies on approval from government regulators. Boeing has already made changes in the aircraft such as reworking the flight control software to be less aggressive. The flight control software was believed to have played a major role in the crashes that grounded the aircraft months ago.
Only time will tell if Boeing will be able to deliver on the promise of the return of the Max. For now, the company will be focusing on making sure the aircraft will be safer and on the care of its customers, employees, and supply chain.