Production cut at crisis-hit Boeing

Orders for Boeing planes have plunged following two fatal crashes, potentially affecting its factory in Sheffield.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 3:34 pm
Business secretary Greg Clark at the launch of Boeing Sheffield.

The US aerospace giant said there were 119 fewer orders for its jets in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2018.

According to a report on its website, the fall was largely due to cancellations for the 737 Max - the model involved in two accidents in five months killing a total of 346 people.

Boeing Sheffield, the firm’s first factory in Europe, makes 147 parts used in motors that move wingflaps on 737s and 767s.

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A Boeing spokesman said they had temporarily cut production of 737s but said orders for all planes were ‘strong’.

“Boeing’s order backlog remains strong with more than 5,800 airplanes, representing about seven years of production at current rates.

“Last month Boeing announced a temporary move from a 737 production rate of 52 to 42 airplanes-a-month.”

Boeing Sheffield opened last year and has capacity to make 10,000 parts-a-month at full production. The site was scheduled to employ 52, including 25 apprentices.

A second, larger, factory is planned nearby to help the firm meet orders.

Last month Boeing said lowered production of the fastest-selling 737 MAX jets had cost it at least $1 billion.

As expected, the company took no new orders in April for the narrow body jets as it continues to work on a software fix for the plane’s anti-stall system, which is implicated in the accidents.

Deliveries of the aircraft were stopped in early March, a few days after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 people on board, in the second fatal accident involving the 737 MAX in just five months.

American Airlines pilots confronted Boeing about potential safety issues in its 737 Max planes in a meeting last November, US media are reporting.

They urged swift action after the first deadly crash off Indonesia in October. Boeing reportedly promised a software fix.

But this had not been rolled out when an Ethiopian Airlines' 737 Max crashed.