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Boeing's grounded 737 Max planes are piling up at the company's Seattle plant

David Slotnick , Business Insider US
 Aug 05, 2019, 12:23 PM
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 31: A Boeing 737 MAX airplane fr
A Boeing 737 MAX airplane from Icelandair sits parked in a parking lot at a Boeing facility adjacent to King County International Airport, known as Boeing Field, on May 31, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Boeing 737 MAX airplanes have been grounded following two fatal crashes in which 346 passengers and crew were killed in October 2018 and March 2019. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
  • Boeing recently said it will consider reducing or suspending production of its 737 Max aircraft if the jetliner remains grounded for much longer.
  • The company expects to submit its fix to the Federal Aviation Administration in September and have the jet cleared to fly again by November, but admitted that unforeseen delays are always possible.
  • Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, have been piling up with Boeing unable to deliver them to customers.
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    The Ethiopian Airlines crash, on March 10, killed 157 people. It was the second fatal crash in five months.

    The first was Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia. That crash, on October 29, 2018, killed 189 people.

    Both crashes are believed to have been caused by MCAS, or Boeing's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.

    MCAS is an automated system designed to prevent the plane's nose from accidentally drifting too far up, causing a stall.

    It was designed to compensate for the fact that the 737 Max has larger engines than previous 737 models, which could cause the nose to drift upward under certain conditions.

    However, preliminary results from the accident investigations indicate that MCAS activated when it wasn't supposed to — possibly due to a faulty sensor — pointing the planes' noses down in a way where the pilots couldn't regain control.

    Boeing's proposed software fixes and redesigns should build in redundancies and give pilots more control, preventing a similar accident from ever happening again.

    Although the 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since the second crash, pending an approved fix, Boeing has continued building orders for customers — it dropped monthly output from 52 jets to 42 in April.

    They'll be delivered as soon as the grounding ends, and the airlines are ready to receive them.

    As the grounding has stretched on, though, longer than Boeing originally estimated, undelivered orders are piling up — and Boeing is running out of room to store them.

    As the company has run out of traditional tarmac space at its Boeing Field facility. It's been forced to find space in less traditional area. Like the employee parking lot.

    There's still plenty of space for employees and guests to park, but its current production rate of 42 aircraft per month won't remain feasible if the grounding extends into 2020.

    The company has not clarified what will happen to employees in that scenario, but layoffs and furloughs would be a possibility.

    For now, as some of Boeing's employees park alongside the very planes they're building, the rest of the company remains focused on fixing the jet's faults and getting it back into service — safely.

    Assuming Boeing submits its fix to the FAA in September and it's approved quickly, these lots will once again be empty of everything but cars.


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