The Boeing Company announced it has resumed production of the 737 MAX fleet in Renton. The company said it will ramp up production through the year.
Production of the 737 MAX was suspended in January, months after the planes were grounded internationally following two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said in December that Boeing had to work through several milestones before the 737 MAX would be recertified and cleared for flight.
The announcement of the restarted production line in Renton was a bright spot that comes on the heels of pending layoffs of nearly 10,000 employees throughout Washington state. Those layoffs were credited to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel and aviation industries.
The Renton plant employs about 12,000 people.
According to a company press release on Wednesday, its 737 program restarted building planes at a low rate and the company has put in place more than a dozen initiatives focused on 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 suspension of production, mechanics and engineers collaborated to refine and standardize work packages in each position of the factory. New kitting processes will also ensure that employees have everything they need at their fingertips to build the airplane.
“The steps we’ve taken in the factory will help drive our goal of 100% quality for our customers while supporting our ongoing commitment to workplace safety,” said Scott Stocker, vice president of 737 Manufacturing in a prepared statement.
The 737 Max came under intense scrutiny after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia. There were no survivors in either crash.
Both planes involved in the crashes were less than a year old.
The planes were internationally grounded, and sparked federal investigations.