Boeing has resumed production of its still-grounded B737 Max aircraft, following a temporary suspension earlier this year.
All Max aircraft worldwide have been grounded since March 2019, as a result of two fatal crashes which killed 346 people.
In December the manufacturer announced it would suspend production of the aircraft, with the decision “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 prioritise the delivery of stored aircraft”.
Production has now resumed “at a low rate”, with the aim of it being gradually ramped up this year.
Boeing said that “During the temporary suspension of production that began in January, mechanics and engineers collaborated to refine and standardize work packages in each position of the factory”, adding that “New kitting processes will also ensure that employees have everything they need at their fingertips to build the airplane”.
Over a year into the aircraft’s grounding, there is still no date for when the B737 Max will resume service, and when it does so it will re-enter a world significantly changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Airlines worldwide are evaluating their fleets, with CNBC reporting earlier this month that over 100 orders for the B737 Max were cancelled in April alone.
Boeing recently reported an operating loss of $1.7 billion for the first quarter of 2020, and said that it plans to reduce its global workforce by 10 per cent.
Commenting on the resumption in production, Walt Odisho, vice president and general manager of the B737 programme, said:
“We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger. These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 Max.”