The Boeing Co will suspend production of new 737 Max aircraft starting in January 2020 and will prioritize the delivery of the 400 aircraft it now has in storage, company announced.
Boeing says at this time no layoffs or furloughs are expected. Boeing’s factory in Renton where the planes are produced employs 12,000 workers across three shifts. The company has continued to assemble about 40 of the 737 Max aircraft a month at the plant since the passenger jet was grounded this past March following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in less than half a year that together claimed the lives of 346 people.
“Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage,” Boeing announced. “We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.”
The company says employees affected by the production shutdown will continue to 737 Max-related work or be temporarily assigned to other teams in the Puget Sound area. The duration of the production shutdown is not known at this time. Regulatory approvals for the 737 Max to return to service are not expected until February 2020, at the earliest.
“We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health,” Boeing says. ”This decision is driven by a number of factors, including the extension of [737 Max] 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.”