Boeing cutting production rate of troubled 737 Max jet

Boeing cutting production rate of troubled 737 Max jet
In this March 13, 2019, file photo a worker stands on a platform near a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for TUI Group at Boeing Co.'s Renton Assembly Plant in Renton, Wash. Boeing is cutting production of its grounded Max airliner this month to focus on fixing flight-control software and getting the planes back in the air. The company said Friday, April 5, that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the 737 Max from 52 to 42 planes per month. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Boeing will cut production of its troubled 737 Max airliner this month, underscoring the growing financial risk it faces the longer that its best-selling plane remains grounded after two deadly crashes.

The company said Friday that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the plane to 42 from 52 planes per month so it can focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in the crashes.

The move was not a complete surprise. Boeing had already suspended deliveries of the Max last month after regulators around the world grounded the jet.

Preliminary reports into accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed the plane's nose down. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system.

In all, 346 people died in the crashes. Boeing faces a growing number of lawsuits filed by families of the victims.

Boeing also announced it is creating a special board committee to review airplane design and development.

The announcement to cut production comes after Boeing acknowledged that a second software issue has emerged that needs fixing on the Max—a discovery that explained why the aircraft maker had pushed back its ambitious schedule for getting the planes back in the air.

A Boeing spokesman called it a "relatively minor issue" and said the plane maker already has a fix in the works. He said the latest issue is not part of flight-control software called MCAS that Boeing has been working to upgrade since the first crash.

Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg described the production cut as temporary and a response to the suspension of Max deliveries.

Boeing has delivered fewer than 400 Max jets but has a backlog of more than 4,600 unfilled orders. The Chicago-based company had hoped to expand Max production this year to 57 planes a month.

Boeing cutting production rate of troubled 737 Max jet
In this March 27, 2019, file photo taken with a fish-eye lens, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane sits on the assembly line during a brief media tour in Boeing's 737 assembly facility in Renton, Wash. Boeing is cutting production of its grounded Max airliner this month to focus on fixing flight-control software and getting the planes back in the air. The company said Friday, April 5, that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the 737 Max from 52 to 42 planes per month. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Indonesia's Garuda Airlines has said it will cancel an order for 49 Max jets. Other airlines, including Lion Air, whose Max 8 crashed off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29, have raised the possibility of canceling.

A Boeing official said Friday's announcement about cutting production was not due to potential cancellations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Boeing does not publicly discuss those details.

In a statement, Muilenburg said the reduction was designed to keep a healthy production system and maintain current employment—in effect, slowing down production now to avoid a deeper cut later, if fixing the plane takes longer than expected.

Analysts say the absence of deliveries will eat into Boeing's because it gets most of the cost of a upon delivery.

Boeing declined to provide figures, but undelivered Max jets have been stacking up at its Renton, Washington, .

Airlines that operate the Max will be squeezed the longer the planes are grounded, particularly if the interruption extends into the peak summer travel season.

They could buy used 737s, but that would be costly because the comparably sized Boeing 737-800 was very popular and in short supply even before the Max problems, according to Jim Williams, publisher of Airfax, a newsletter that tracks transactions involving commercial aircraft.

Williams said that if the Max grounding appears likely to extend into summer it will cause airlines to explore short-term leases, which could push lease rates higher, something that airline analysts say is already happening.

Boeing shares closed at $391.93, down $3.93. In after-hours after news of the production cut, they slipped another $8.98, or 2.3%, to $382.85.


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Boeing dealing with second software problem on troubled jet

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Apr 06, 2019
The hazards of employing Spin Doctors and PR executives and accountants instead of engineers:
Now demonstrated by two MAX jets and two space shuttles.

Boeing should have done an engineering risk assessment BEFORE setting the PR team loose back in October. The loss of life and business risks of a second crash should have stood out like a sore thumb.

Apr 06, 2019
The company said Friday that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the plane to 42 from 52 planes per month so it can focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in the crashes.

How exactly does cutting production numbers help software engineers in fixing bugs? I work as a dev for a company making complicated high end hardware, but that relationship is a new one to me.

This seems like so much of a PR blurb.

Apr 06, 2019
Wouldn't cutting production numbers free up engineers to work on the problem? You don't want to stall the entire production line over this one problem, which must have a reliable fix, and soon.

It is all the customers who won't want to ride on one of them that is their biggest concern.

Apr 06, 2019
Software devs aren't working in production in any capacity. At best you have some people specialized in installing the software and setup.
You can't just free up a mechanical engineer and tell him: Go hunt software bugs. Even the install/setup/software test guys know nothing of the code.

If you have the orders then there's no reason to slow down production - even if you delay delivery of the first batch until a bugfix is in place. Updating software can be done after the plane is finished.

Apr 06, 2019
Reports into accidents found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed the plane's nose down
Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system

This is a basic control problem
one that automatically fails an Airworthy Certificate
this plane has two of these sensors
as
they were competing with each other
over which sensor was going to bring this plane out of an imaginary stall
the question is
how did this plane pass its Airworthy Certificate
this fault is a design fault
in fact
it is not a fault
as these electronics are simply following a series of repetitive instructions
these electronics cannot think they are automatons
this cannot be fixed
the next obvious question
how does Boeings other planes tackle this problem
because
this is an avionics rule to pass their airworthy certificate
Do not deviate from a safe working faultless design that has eliminated accidents

Apr 08, 2019
There are bigger problems on the Max than just software issues. The multiple redundant systems which nearly every other commercial airliner uses are mostly absent on the Max. A plane built by bean counters trying to maximize profitability instead of engineers trying to protect lives. And they continue to build the plane, hopefully for their shareholders they have great lawyers.

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