Production of the Boeing 737 Max has been halted after the FAA said it will not recertify the aircraft until next year.
The suspension comes after FAA chief Steve Dickinson told CNBC last week that recertification of the 737 Max will extend into 2020 before testifying to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at the US House of Representatives.
During the session Dickinson said, “Actions that must still take place before the aircraft will return to service include a certification flight test and completion of work by the Joint Operations Evaluation Board.
“Additionally, the FAA will review all final design documentation, which also will be reviewed by the multi-agency Technical Advisory Board.
“I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until all FAA technical reviews are complete, I fly it myself using my experience as an Air Force and commercial pilot, and I am satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought.
The halt to production is a further blow to the US company, which last month said it was planning on the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would recertify the 737 Max by the end of this year, enabling it to return service next month.
Boeing has continued to build the 737 Max while the aircraft has been grounded and there are now approximately 400 aircraft in storage.
The company said in a statement: “We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the Max grounding continue longer than we expected. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737-program beginning next month.
“The FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service. Safely returning the 737 Max to service is our top priority.”
It added that the decision to suspend production was also being taken because of uncertainty about when the new training programs would be approved.
The 737 Max is made at Boeing’s Renton factory in Washington State, by around 12,000 employees, who will continue 737-related work or be temporarily assigned to other teams there.