Boeing will temporarily halt production of its 737 Max plane

Tim O'Donnell

With possible regulatory approval still months away, Boeing will suspend the production of its grounded 737 MAX jet, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The model hasn't been in the sky since March following a fatal crash in Ethiopia that month and another in Indonesia in October 2018, both of which resulted from a faulty software update. But the aerospace giant was continuing to churn out the 737 at a rate of 42 planes per month, creating a backlog of 400 jets while government agencies try to gauge when it may be safe to fly again.

Ultimately, the build-up of undelivered planes proved costly for Boeing, so a temporary pause in production was ordered. It's unclear how long that could last, but no layoffs are expected at Boeing itself. However, the Journal reports the decision will still likely "reverberate throughout the U.S. economy." That's because in addition to the 12,000 or so workers at Boeing's 737 assembly plant in Renton, Washington, the plane's construction also supports thousands of jobs across 600 suppliers and hundreds of smaller firms in the global supply chain. Some of those jobs could be in jeopardy, and one estimate has the production freeze shaving off 0.3 of a percentage point from GDP growth in the first quarter.

"It would be hard to have any single company stop the production of a single product and have it hit the economy as hard as this would," said Luke Tilley, the chief economist at investment-management firm Wilmington Trust. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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