Boeing confirms suspension of 737 MAX 8 production

The halt comes after two fatal accidents which are still under investigation.
The halt comes after two fatal accidents which are still under investigation. Photo credit: Getty Images/Newshub.

Boeing has confirmed reports that is will suspend production of its troubled 737 MAX aircraft, marking the first time the company has stopped production of the 737 and its variants since the first was launched in 1967.

"Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority," a statement from the company said.

Boeing said the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other global regulatory authorities are determining the timeline for certification and return to service of the troubled aircraft. Last week, news emerged that the FAA would not approve the aircraft's return to service before 2020.

"We have decided to prioritise the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 programme beginning next month," Boeing said.

"We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health. This decision is 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."

Despite all 737 Max 8s being grounded since March, Boeing continued to manufacture the aircraft; but it now has approximately 400 of them in storage, and some airlines have been cancelling their orders for the latest version of the world's most popular aircraft.

There will be no job losses at this stage, with employees who work on Boeing 737 production lines being moved to other areas of the business.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 was grounded after two of the aircraft crashed within months of each other, killing 346 people. With similarities between the two disasters apparent, an investigation was launched by the FAA in the United States.