The future of the beleaguered Boeing 737 Max 8 is once again in jeopardy. The airplane manufacturer announced today it will halt production of the plane that has crashed twice since 2018.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that the manufacturer was deciding whether to suspend or curb production of the plane that’s been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration and international regulators since March. It’s the longest grounding in the history of the FAA. The WSJ report took a toll on Boeing’s stock, which fell 4.27% since.
Lion Airlines Flight 610 crashed in October 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 30 crashed in March 2019. In total, 346 passengers and crew members died in the two tragedies.
While the 737 Max 8 remains grounded, authorities believe the culprit in the crashes is a sensor that forced the jet’s nose downward without the pilot’s knowledge.
“We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health,” read a statement from Boeing. “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.”
Boeing previously announced a rosier timeline for the 737 Max 8, citing mid-December as an appropriate time for recertification. Regulators shot back, telling Boeing that its timeline was “unrealistic.”
“The issue here is determining, do we keep making these airplanes? If so, do we do it at the same rate, or slow it down again?” aviation expert Brett Snyder told Adweek. “They have this backlog piling up, they are making these planes and they can’t deliver them to anyone.”
But that doesn’t mean Boeing will kill the 737 Max 8, first introduced in 2017 to compete with Airbus’ more efficient A320neo.
“This has nothing to do with the future of the Max, but how you manage it while the airplane isn’t allowed to fly for airlines,” Snyder said.
Former Boeing employee turned whistleblower Ed Pierson appeared before Congress last week and described Boeing’s manufacturing factory as “chaos.”
Pierson detailed how working conditions in Boeing’s manufacturing plants showed signs of institutional mismanagement, which eventually led to the crashes.
The grounding has caused nothing but grief for Boeing, which responded by taking out full-page ads on the anniversary of the first 737 Max 8 crash.
“We mourn those whose lives were lost on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and offer our deepest sympathies to their families and friends. We will always remember,” the ad reads with the signoff, “From all of us at Boeing.”