Boeing is building the 737 Max again even though it is not yet approved to fly

Posted May 27, 2020 6:33 p.m. EDT

— Boeing restarted production of the troubled 737 Max Wednesday, even though the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to give approval for the jet to fly again, and as demand for new jets has ground to a near halt along with demand for air travel.

The announcement came on the same day that Boeing notified 6,770 workers they were losing their jobs. Another 5,520 workers have taken voluntary buyout offers.

Airlines' move to cancel or delay the delivery of new jets in the face of the industry's crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Boeing to greatly reduce its production plans for at least the next several years.

Boeing had continued to build the Max, its best selling jet, even after it was grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. It produced more than 400 of the jets that it was unable to deliver before halting production in January in the face of continued delays in getting approval for it to fly again.

Boeing said it now expects that approval in the middle of this year.

The company temporarily stopped building the plane in January, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit most of the world's airlines. It couldn't afford to keep building the Max without being able to deliver the planes and complete the sales. But if it kept the line shut it risked the loss of suppliers who might go out of business without being able to sell their parts to Boeing.

"Without the supply chain there will be nothing for us to assemble so it's as simple at that," said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun at the annual meeting in April when discussing the need to support the company's suppliers.

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