When it flew for the first time in 2016 and entered airline service the following year, the Boeing 737 MAX was considered a dream update on the over-50-year-old original 737 design. The fourth-generation 737 MAX would take over from the third-generation 737NG which debuted in the 1990s, boasting improvements from decades of aeronautic design and engineering such as better engines and split-tip winglets. But the bright future of this narrow-body airliner was called into question when two of its units suffered crashes in 2018 and 2019, leading airlines the world over to ground their 737 MAX fleets. While Boeing tried to keep its production going, eventually they had to stop.
CNN reports that Boeing has decided to halt production of the beleaguered 737 MAX passenger aircraft while it awaits the result of a new re-certification test for the design. The aircraft manufacturer announced its decision on Monday, December 16, that MAX production will come to a halt beginning in January 2020. As expected, the statement caused Boeing stock price to weaken. It had already been down over 4% going into Monday as speculation about the production stoppage began to circulate. Following the announcement, Boeing lost a further 0.67% after trading.
The problems of the 737 MAX began in October 2018, when an Indonesian Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea. On March this year, another MAX from Ethiopian Airlines went down mere minute after takeoff from Addis Ababa. Both crashes killed all on board and led to the mass grounding of the aircraft in that same month. Other global airlines cancelled their 737 MAX orders, and the manufacturer was lucky to net 30 units for order in November. With dwindling interest in the plane until it is re-certified, Boeing will instead focus on delivering what MAX’s has already been produced, without making new ones.
Waiting for a new certification on the Boeing 737 MAX might take the company a bit more time though, as Administrator Stephen Dickinson of the Federal Aviation Administration doubts a certification can be completed before the year is out. As a result, Boeing’s halt of MAX manufacture has no determinable end date. It does project however that it would take until 2021 to finish delivering all its completed 737 MAX orders to their receiving airlines.
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