MIAMI — Boeing plans to suspend its 737 MAX production line in January 2020. The manufacturer’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, said that this decision was based on a thoughtful assessment of various factors.
The imminent shutdown of the 737 assembly line comes after the plane was grounded worldwide since March 2019, following two fatal crashes in October 2018 (Lion Air flight 610), and in March 2019 (Ethiopian Airlines flight 302), which led to one of the biggest scandals in commercial aviation history.
Boeing has stated that no employee will be laid off as part of the production line shutdown; instead, most will be transferred to other manufacturing programs until the 737 line restarts.
The shut down, however, will not affect 737NG and P8 (a Military Recognizance plane based off the 737 NG) and C40 Clipper (A Troop Transported based of the 737 NG) production.
“Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority. We know 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 our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates,” said Boeing in regard to the production line suspension.
“As we have previously said, the FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service. We remain fully committed to supporting this process. It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered.”
Boeing does not expect the FAA to re-certify the Boeing 737 MAX until 2020. The planemaker also has the challenge of other aviation authorities worldwide carrying out their own reviews of the 737 MAX.
Since the worldwide, grounding, Boeing has built around 400 Boeing 737 MAXs, with all aircraft going straight into storage, after all the pre delivery checks and test flights.
Around 380 Boeing 737 MAXs have been delivered since May 2017.
The grounding and delivery delays have significantly affected airlines worldwide with many having to reduce flight frequencies or even cancel routes altogether.
Some airlines have also had to postpone retirement of older aircraft types to help cope.
This production line shutdown will inherently affect all of the suppliers that produce parts for the aircraft, both in the USA and internationally.
The country’s biggest exporter, Boeing, will now have to cope without its best-selling airliner until worldwide regulators come to a consensus and approve the plane’s re-entry into service.