About 10,000 737 program employees on two shifts at Boeing’s Renton facility paused airplane manufacturing on January 25 for a full-day working session focused on first-time quality and safety.
In the coming weeks, Quality Stand Downs will take place for the Renton factory third shift and at other Boeing Commercial Airplanes sites.
Renton Production Stand Down
Stand downs are common practice in heavy manufacturing, most often focused on worker safety. While Boeing has held stand downs previously, this is the first time Boeing has actually paused airplane production for an entire day with a stand down to focus on quality and safety.
Elizabeth Lund Airplane Programs Senior VP set the tone for the day’s stand down, saying they would reflect on quality, conformity, compliance and safety.
“We, the Boeing company, are under a tremendous amount of scrutiny, and what I will say is, rightly so,” Lund said.
“The accident was serious. Our customers are counting on us. The flying public is counting on us. We are counting on us, first and foremost.”
United Airlines is the largest major operator of the affected Boeing 737-9 MAX variant, and has disclosed that it has taken a hit to its financial bottom line for Q1 2024 as a result of the mandatory fleet grounds.
United CEO Scott Kirby intimated this week that, whilst the airline will honor open orders for the larger MAX 10 aircraft, the manufacturing issues which have transpired this month will likely mean that the airline will consider other aircraft options rather than a newer 737 MAX variant in the future.
Alaska Airlines, as the next largest operator of the variant has similarly seen large numbers of flights disrupted as a result of the issue.
Earlier this week, Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said:
“We have let down our airline customers and are deeply sorry for the significant disruption to them, their employees and their passengers.”
“We are taking action on a comprehensive plan to bring these airplanes safely back to service and to improve our quality and delivery performance. We will follow the lead of the FAA and support our customers every step of the way.”
What’s the difference between a 737-8 and 737-9?
The Boeing 737 MAX family includes the 737-7, 737-8 (including the high-occupancy 737-8-200), 737-9 and 737-10. The 737-8, 737-8-200 and 737-9 are in active service. The 737-7 and 737-10 are undergoing certification and are not in service.
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 was a 737-9. Compared to a 737-8, which does not have a door-plug option, the 737-9 is nearly 9 feet (2.7 meters) longer, has a slightly shorter range and its cabin can be configured with more seats. The 737-9 represents about 16% of the total in-service 737 MAX fleet.
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