Boeing to suspend 737 MAX production

Dec 16, 2019, 2:36 PM | Updated: 4:11 pm
A worker looks up underneath a Boeing 737 MAX jet Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Renton, Wash. Shares of Boeing fell before the opening bell on a report that the company may cut production of its troubled 737 MAX or even end production all together. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Boeing announced on Monday that it will suspend production of the 737 MAX in January.

The company says it is temporary and is not making any predictions on how long it could last.

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“As we have previously said, the FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service,” Boeing said in a news release. “We remain fully committed to supporting this process.”

The company’s timetable for bringing back the MAX has repeatedly proved too optimistic. In September, CEO Dennis Muilenburg predicted that the plane would be flying by about October.

“I know there is a lot of pressure to return this aircraft to service quickly,” FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said in November in a video for agency employees, “but I want you to know, and I want you to take the time you need and focus solely on safety.”

Boeing said it has no plans for layoffs. Employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams around the region.

Since the grounding, Boeing said it has continued to build new airplanes. There are 400 737 MAX airplanes in storage.

The 737 MAX was grounded in March after two crashes that killed 346 people. The first crash included a Lion Air Max that crashed Oct. 29, 2018. The second was six months later with an Ethiopian Airlines Max on March 10.

Boeing reported in October that third-quarter earnings fell 51% to $1.17 billion. It added another $900 million in costs for the Max, and deliveries of new planes tumbled from a year ago.

Boeing cited uncertainty around global trade in saying it will cut monthly production of the larger 787 jet from 14 a month to 12 for about two years, starting in 2019. In September, Muilenburg warned that trade tension with China — the company’s biggest foreign market — threatened sales of widebody planes like the 787.

And Boeing said it aims to begin delivering the newest version of its big 777 airliner in early 2021. Problems with engines made by General Electric have delayed test flights for the 777X.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Boeing to suspend 737 MAX production