Boeing is Running Out of Room For its Planes As The 737 Max Crisis Continues
Matthew Greenwood posted on April 19, 2019 |
All deliveries have been put on hold and new orders are disappearing, but production continues.

Even though Boeing has stopped delivering new 737 Max aircraft to customers, the company is still making the planes—but it’s running out of tarmac to park them on.

The 737 Max has been effectively grounded worldwide since March 13 as a response to two fatal crashes in five months. And while Boeing also suspended all deliveries as it works on a solution, it continues production, though at a slower rate.

At peak production, Boeing was manufacturing up to 52 planes a month, but it has scaled back to 42 during the crisis. It’s a logistical nightmare. Boeing has had to maintain a certain manufacturing pace to meet customer demands. And it can’t be easy to just shut down production entirely for such a sophisticated machine with an extensive, global supply chain.

The good news for Boeing is that only one of its clients, Garuda Indonesia, intends to cancel its 737 Max order. The bad news, though, is that Boeing has nowhere to send its new planes—resulting in what could be the largest parking lot mess in manufacturing history.

The planes are being crowded into storage lots at the Renton facility; at the Paine Field next to another Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, and at the company's Seattle Delivery Center.

Boeing’s parking lot is filling up with 737 Max planes.

There is no definite end in sight for Boeing’s problems. In the coming weeks the company expects to release a software update to prevent the Ethiopian Air and Lion Air accidents from happening again. But that software has to be approved by the FAA and international regulators, which could take some time since they’ll want to thoroughly examine the proposed solution.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have grounded their 737 Maxes till August, and United has removed them from its schedule till July—resulting in thousands of cancelled flights. Those three carriers have the largest 737 Max fleets.

Boeing has an order backlog of 4,600 additional Max jets. But customers have stopped placing any new orders since the crisis began; in the first quarter of 2019 there were only 32 new orders, compared to 122 a year ago.

As the U.S.’s largest exporter—and a mainstay of the Dow Jones industrial average—continued delays could drag down the whole country’s gross domestic product, according to JPMorgan.

While Boeing will be able to recover from these difficulties in the long run, the failures of its 737 Max aircraft will continue to negatively impact the planemaker—likely for most of this year.

Read more about the 737 Max crisis at Update 737 MAX Crash: How Culpable is Boeing?

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