Embattled airplane maker Boeing (BA) - Get Report is planning to resume production of its currently grounded 737 MAX jet before regulators allow the plane back in the air, a move intended to signify the company's confidence in the ill-fated airliner.
The Chicago-based aerospace company will resume production of its best-selling plane sometime before mid-year as it attempts to recover from one of the worst crises in its 104-year history, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
Boeing halted production in January, 10 months after the jet was grounded worldwide following two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing failed to sell any commercial planes in January, the second month with no orders since the flying ban was imposed.
Boeing is seeking the right cruising altitude between avoiding a prolonged manufacturing halt that would strain its operations and put stress on jobs once it receives the nod from global regulators, and re-starting production too soon, churning out even more idle 737 MAX’s already on the tarmac.
Boeing has said that it expects global regulators to start clearing the aircraft to fly in the middle of this year. Airlines have pushed back their expected resumption of 737 MAX’s in their respective fleets, as well as accepting new orders.
Meantime, Boeing is prepping to ramp up discussions with carriers on its new mid-market airplane known in industry lingo as NMA, following the MAX’s expected return to service.
A year ago, Boeing was deep into planning for the NMA, envisioned as a family of twin-aisle jets that would carry between 220 and 270 or so passengers. The model’s frame would be an unusual ovoid shape, offering roomier passenger cabins and smaller cargo compartments, according to Bloomberg.
Boeing finalized arrangements for a $13 billion bridge loan last week to provide the plane maker with financial flexibility to continue weathering the downturn in orders. The company reportedly received loan commitments totaling $14 billion.
Shares of Boeing were up 0.8% at $347.37 in trading on Wednesday.