Boeing has resumed production of the 737 Max at the company’s factory in Renton, Washington, following five months of inactivity, the company announced Wednesday. The 737 program began building airplanes at a low rate as Boeing implements more than a dozen initiatives focused on what it calls enhancing workplace safety and product quality.
“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.”
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. Boeing also said it instituted new kitting processes to aid worker efficiency.
“The steps we’ve taken in the factory will help drive our goal of 100 percent quality for our customers while supporting our ongoing commitment to workplace safety,” said 737 vice president of 737 manufacturing Scott Stocker.
Plans call for 737 Max production to accelerate more slowly than originally planned following the narrowbody’s year-and-half-long grounding. In a drastic departure from plans to raise the 737’s peak rate of 57 a month to as many as 63, Boeing now sees 737 Max rates gradually increasing to just 31 per month next year and modestly rising with any increased market demand thereafter.
The resumption of production comes as Boeing continues to work on fixes to the airplane's flight control design following the twin crashes of the Max in October 2018 and March 2019. Specifically, the company continues to work on the software validation and required technical documentation to allow it to proceed to a certification flight. During an April 29 earnings call, Boeing CEO David Calhoun said he hopes the company can resume 737 Max deliveries during the third quarter of this year.