LONDON – Boeing has this week announced that production of the Boeing 737MAX program will resume, following its temporary suspension back in January.
This will come as good news to Boeing, especially with the crisis involving the aircraft beginning to come to some sort of an end.
It is understood that production will begin at a low-rate, although no official figure was given, with it due to ramp up by the end of the year.
Commenting on the news was Walt Odisho, VP and General Manager of the 737 Program who has emphasized how such enhanced workplace safety and product quality is important for the program.
“We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger. These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX.”
Also commenting on the news was Scott Stocker, the VP of 737 Manufacturing who aims for 100% quality for Boeing’s customers.
“The steps we’ve taken in the factory will help drive our goal of 100 percent quality for our customers while supporting our ongoing commitment to workplace safety”.
Even before the Coronavirus hit, the 737MAX has been in the spotlight for the best part of 18 months due to the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which collectively killed 346 people.
The two crashes, which were over a five-month period were attributed to problems with MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System), which caused both aircraft to pitch down towards the ground.
This had also exposed problems with the certification process in the U.S.A with Boeing being delegated most of the certification roles from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
As a result, we have begun to see mass cancellations of orders for the MAX, especially with Coronavirus speeding up this process for sure.
In the month of April, no orders were secured by Boeing, but it has emerged that in the first quarter of this year, around 307 units were taken out of the backlog of aircraft the manufacturer still has to deliver.
Highlights of such cancellations came from Brazilian airline GOL who cancelled orders for 39 units of the type, reducing its order-book to 95, while Smartwings in the Czech Republic reduced its orders by five due to leasing company Avolon scrapping an order for 75 aircraft.
Boeing does still have a significant backlog, being recorded at around 5,049, of which 4,079 are attributed to the MAX.
The manufacturer will have to make up ground as such order cancellations and delays has worked well in favour for Airbus so far.
April saw the manufacturer record a backlog of 7,645 aircraft, 6,217 of which belong to the A320 family.
This means that the 737MAX is trailing by a staggering 2,170 units, which could take some time to recover up to such levels.
Either way, regarding the order-trail or not, it is significant news for Boeing to be restarting production of the MAX, and such ramp-up of production would suggest that re-certification of the jet is not far away at all.