Even without an expected return to operation, after the grounding imposed by the global aviation authorities, the 737 MAX was once again produced by Boeing. Airframer confirmed on Wednesday that the Renton plant had resumed assembling the aircraft at “low rate”.
“We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger,” said Walt Odisho, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. “These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX.”
Boeing, however, did not reveal what the monthly production rate will be, but it is estimated that it will reach 31 aircraft by 2021. It is a decrease from the monthly rate before the shutdown, in January, when 42 units were completed, and distant from old pre-accident goals, when the manufacturer planned to produce 57 to 63 jets per month.
When Boeing decided to suspend assembly of the 737 MAX at the beginning of the year, it had already accumulated more than 400 ready-made aircraft and suffered from a lack of space to store them.
In that hiatus, the planemaker stated that “mechanics and engineers collaborated to refine and standardize work packages in each position of the factory. New kitting processes will also ensure that employees have everything they need at their fingertips to build the airplane.”
To reverse the bad impression caused by the serious flaws in the 737 MAX’s design, Boeing has reinforced the message that it is seeking to achieve high levels of quality and reliability in its processes.
On the other hand, the company is starting a major process of layoffs caused by the coronavirus crisis. Some 13,000 jobs are expected to be cut in the coming weeks, 5,520 of them at the initiative of employees.
The resumption of production, which had been anticipated by Boeing, is feared by the fact that the forecast for the 737 MAX to fly again should only occur around August.
The FAA has analyzed the changes introduced by the manufacturer, but it remains unclear as to when the newest variant of the most popular commercial aircraft in history will be allowed to carry passengers again.