Production of the grounded Boeing 737 Max, which has already been largely curtailed in recent months, may be on the verge of total shutdown.
According to CNN Business, company CEO Dennis Muilenburg told investors in a Wednesday phone call that attempts to fix technological problems in the new plane are on schedule, but that production may be further curtailed, if not entirely halted for a time, should the plane not receive flight approval from regulators soon.
The 737 Max has been grounded since mid-March because of two tragic crashes that killed a combined 346 passengers and crew.
In the call, Muilenburg reportedly said the delay, or total production halt is, “not something we want to do, but an alternative that we have to prepare for.”
According to CNBC, Boeing is working on patching software errors in the 737 Max’s safety system, which are believed to have caused the crashes of both Lion Air Flight 610, in Indonesia in October 2018, and Ethopian Air Flight 302 outside Adis Ababa in March.
A safety program intended to keep the planes from stalling is suspected instead of sending them into a nosedive, CNN reported; the same system kept pilots from overriding it before the planes crashed.
CNBC also reported that Boeing has informed investors the software fix is being submitted to aviation officials for review.
An approval would not, however, come until September.
A certification flight would then need to be carried out in October, leading company leadership to believe flights, and full production of the aircraft, would not resume until the fourth quarter of the fiscal year.
“Should our estimate of the anticipated return to service change, we might need to consider possible further rate reductions or other options, including a temporary shutdown of the Max production,” Muilenburg said, according to CNBC.
“A temporary shutdown of production line could be more efficient than a sustained lower production rate.”
Meanwhile, Boeing announced on Wednesday that, with the grounding of its best-selling aircraft, it has experienced a 35 percent reduction in revenue, according to NPR.
This translated into $2.9 billion in second-quarter losses for the company.
Boeing reported Wednesday that it suffered a second-quarter loss of nearly $3 billion as revenue plunged 35% after the aircraft maker halted deliveries of any new Max jets. https://t.co/UbaiXnaLsf
— KSN News Wichita (@KSNNews) July 25, 2019
The 737 Max’s grounding has also resulted in backlash from outside Boeing this summer, earning the company the ire of a variety of other aviation-sector businesses.
Carriers of the aircraft, including United, Southwest and American, have canceled thousands of lucrative summer flights as a result of the grounding.
And, barring a miracle, these cancellations will also hamper holiday travel come fall and winter.
Ireland-based budget carrier Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary blames Boeing for preventing the company’s planned 2019 expansion.
In a conference call with analysts this month, O’Leary said his company will fly 5 million fewer passengers than expected, NPR reported.
“We are at the mercy of Boeing and the regulators,” O’Leary said in conference call earlier this month, NPR reported.
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