FAA rescinds grounding of Renton-made 737 MAX

The news is good for Renton, as possible job losses continue to loom over the local Boeing factory as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

For almost two years, the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes has left all eyes on Renton’s Boeing plant, where the MAX is manufactured. But on Nov. 18, The Federal Aviation Administration lifted the grounding of the MAX, pending requirements are met in an Airworthiness Directive.

While Renton’s Boeing employees may be able to breathe easier on this, financial difficulties from COVID-19 still loom over Boeing. In October there were speculations the factory could be affected after Boeing proposed closing a separate office space it also holds in Renton. Boeing does have a planned company-wide layoff it announced in October that will hit 19% of it workforce by 2021, which could include Renton employees.

Despite the financial concerns, Renton’s Mayor Armondo Pavone stated that the city has been assured Boeing’s Renton plant is staying for the long haul.

“We are grateful that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today rescinded the order that halted commercial operations of the Boeing 737 MAX. The certification will allow Boeing to begin making deliveries, continue working with regulators worldwide, and allow their customers to return the airplane into service,” Pavone stated. “As the nation recovers from COVID-19, we are hopeful that the first recovery will be national travel, which will be incredibly positive for the delivery and production of the 737 MAX. We’ve also been assured that Boeing’s commitment to manufacturing the 737 MAX in Renton is going to be for the long haul— a shot in the arm for our community and for the amenities, quality of life, and business climate that makes this City so desirable.”

In a statement on the lift, Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called it an important milestone.

“We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide,” Deal stated.

The FAA’s decision follows months of work on resolving what went wrong with two crashes that killed 346 people, including the pilots. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed a aircraft certification bill, “to restore the integrity of the certification process and make flight safer,” according to a statement from Congressmen Rick Larsen. Larson, like Pavone, also hopes this move will help drive economic recovery following the pandemic.

“I am confident safety was the guiding principle in the FAA’s review and decision to unground the Boeing 737 MAX. At my first opportunity, I will fly in a MAX airplane,” Larsen stated.