Boeing today released a statement that it plans to suspend production of the 737 MAX starting in January, pointing to the fact that re-certification of the aircraft is moving into 2020. The company is not making any layoffs in relation to what it calls a temporary suspension of this work.
Back on November 11, Boeing released news that it was possible for deliveries of the grounded 737 MAX aircraft to resume to airline customers in December 2019, only after new certification of the airplane.
The resumption of deliveries, explains Boeing, depends on the FAA issuing an Airworthiness Directive rescinding the 737 MAX grounding order, which took place in March 2019 days after the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, which was tied to an earlier October 2018 fatal accident involving another MAX 8 (flight JT610) operated by Lion Air. The entry into service of the 737 will largely revolve around the FAA certification of MAX flight control software updates.
In its new statement about halting 737 MAX production in January, Boeing states, “Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority. We know that the process of approving the 737 MAX’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates.”
Boeing has continued to build new 737 MAX airplanes throughout its grounding and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage. The company continues to explain, that as a result of the ongoing recertification process and evaluation, that it has have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft. “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 explains there are five key milestones it must complete with the FAA before returning the 737 MAX to service, including one that has been completed:
• FAA eCab Simulator Certification Session: A multi-day eCab simulator evaluation with the FAA to ensure the overall software system performs its intended function, both normally and in the presence of system failures. COMPLETED
• FAA Line Pilots Crew Workload Evaluation: A separate, multi-day simulator session with airline pilots to assess human factors and crew workload under various test conditions.
• FAA Certification Flight Test: FAA pilots will conduct a certification flight(s) of the final updated software.
• Boeing Final Submittal to the FAA: After completion of the FAA certification flight, Boeing will submit the final certification deliverables and artifacts to the FAA to support software certification.
• Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) Simulator Training Evaluation: The Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), a multi-regulatory body, conducts a multi-day simulator session with global regulatory pilots to validate training requirements. Following the simulator session, the Flight Standardization Board will release a report for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training.