Boeing plans to resume 737 MAX production this month

May 8, 2020

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Boeing is getting ready to resume production of its best-selling 737 MAX jets this month as its workers return to the factory.

“I am confident we will start our line this month on the MAX again,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun told Fox Business on Friday.

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His comments represent an acceleration from what the company told investors during its earnings call last month, when the plane maker said it expected to resume production of the MAX at “low rates” in the second half of 2020.

Read more: What Boeing’s next moves say about the slow resumption of travel.

Even so, the MAX is not yet cleared to fly. It’s been grounded by global regulators since March 2019, after the second of two crashes overseas that killed 346 people.

Boeing continued churning out jets in the MAX family through most of 2019, at one time producing more than 40 a month. But, with the planes unable to fly in commercial service, the manufacturer was forced to put hundreds of new aircraft into storage as it worked with regulators to address a flight control software issue suspected of contributing to both disasters.

Related: Lion Air initially wanted simulator training for 737 MAX pilots, documents show.

During its most-recent quarterly earnings call, the company said it is confident the plane will be approved to fly again later this year, but emphasized that the decision rests solely with government regulators.

Now, Boeing says, it will focus on delivering those finished planes even as it starts the production line up again. The company plans to slowly ramp up production rates to 31 MAXes per month by the end of next year.

Related: Southwest Airlines is betting it won’t need 140 737 jets for a while.

Demand for travel remains depressed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but both airline executives and industry experts believe shorter domestic trips are likely to lead the recovery. To that end, Calhoun told investors last month he’s optimistic the MAX will be well-positioned as a valuable aircraft for airlines as they emerge from the slump — once it’s permitted to fly again.

Featured photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy.

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