Boeing announced late April 5 it will slow 737 MAX production from 52 to 42 aircraft a month by mid-April, indicating that the type’s grounding and delivery halt will last longer than initially expected.
The announcement came minutes after stocks closed regular trading on Wall Street and after Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a videotaped statement earlier in the day expressing the US manufacturer’s sorrow for lives lost in recent MAX crashes and how the company is working to change the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS).
“As we continue to work through these steps, we're adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in MAX deliveries, allowing us to prioritize additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the MAX to flight,” Muilenburg said in announcing the slowdown.
“At a production rate of 42 airplanes per month, the 737 program and related production teams will maintain their current employment levels while we continue to invest in the broader health and quality of our production system and supply chain,” Boeing continued. “We are coordinating closely with our customers as we work through plans to mitigate the impact of this adjustment. We will also work directly with our suppliers on their production plans to minimize operational disruption and financial impact of the production-rate change.”
The MAX fleet has been grounded since March 13. The production slowdown is a significant turn of events considering that in February the OEM was looking to raise MAX production rate to 57 aircraft a month this summer. Boeing and suppliers were rehearsing for a rate increase from 52 a month before Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed March 10.
Immediate ramifications of the slowdown remain unclear.
Following Boeing’s announcement, Spirit AeroSystems announced the company will maintain its 737 deliveries to Boeing at the current rate of 52 shipsets per month.
Engine maker CFM International said it had no plans to decrease production of LEAP-1B engines. “The decision to maintain the current production rate was made to allow CFM to build on the momentum it has gained over the last year in meeting the historic LEAP ramp up requirements and will help ensure the stability of the global CFM supply chain,” CFM said. “We have great confidence in Boeing and the 737 MAX and will continue our close coordination on this program.”