Boeing's cursed 737 Maxes are no longer in production.
The aircraft started falling out of the sky last spring, after which one nation after another banned them from taking off or landing at their airports; it emerged that pilots had long known of deficiencies in the 737 Max's control software, which the company had largely "self-certified" under lax FAA rules that allowed aerospace companies to police their own safety rules on the grounds that their internal quality assurance processes were sufficient (Boeing sidelined, silenced and marginalized its own employees who sounded alarms about the 737 Max).
Part of the problem appears to be that certain crucial safety features were sold as optional upgrades, leaving pilots for carriers from poorer countries at a disadvantage.
This week, Boeing pushed back its date for getting the 737 Maxes flying to summer 2020. Shortly after, the company announced that it was "pausing" production on the aircraft, with no restart date specified.
Though Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg — who oversaw the self-regulation process for the 737 Max — was stripped of his role as chairman of Boeing's board and eventually fired, he left with $80m in compensation. Boeing will not disclose how many workers it will lay off as a result of the shutdown of the 737 Max.
Boeing would not release a headcount for people who had been working on the plane. The company said the employees will be reassigned to other duties during the shutdown, and there are a number of reasons for that.
First, under federal labor law, Boeing would have to pay them for 60 days following a layoff notice. Since Boeing is still hoping to resume work on the plane soon, it probably would have limited cost savings to go through the process of laying off the workers.
And with unemployment in the Seattle metropolitan area at 2.9% — lower than the national unemployment rate that's at a 50-year low — Boeing can't risk losing the workers it needs once production resumes. In his email to Boeing employees a week ago, new CEO Dave Calhoun said the company would "keep taking steps to maintain our supply chain and workforce expertise so we're ready to restart production."
Boeing has temporarily stopped making 737 Max airplanes [Chris Isidore/CNN Business]
(Photo: Shutterstock; Illustration: Beschizza)