1. ITV Report

Boeing cuts production rate of 737 Max jet after crashes

The company said that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the 737 Max from 52 to 42 planes per month. Credit: PA

Boeing will reduce the number of 737 Max jets it produces after two deadly crashes in the space of five months killed 346 people.

The firm announced it will cut production from 52 to 42 planes per month of their best-selling aircraft in order to focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software implicated in the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Deliveries of the jet had already been suspended after the jets were grounded worldwide.

Preliminary reports into accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia found faulty sensor readings triggered an anti-stall system which pushed the plane's nose down.

Pilots on the plane struggled in vain to bring the aircraft under control.

Boeing is now facing a number of lawsuits from relatives involved in the two deadly crashes.

The aircraft maker announced it is creating a special board committee to review airplane design and development.

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The announcement to cut production comes after Boeing acknowledged that a second software issue has emerged that needs fixing on the Max — a discovery that explained why the aircraft maker had pushed back its ambitious schedule for getting the planes back in the air.

A Boeing spokesman called it a “relatively minor issue” and said the planemaker already has a fix in the works. He said the latest issue is not part of flight-control software called MCAS that Boeing has been working to upgrade since the first crash.

Boeing is cutting production of its grounded Max airliner this month to focus on fixing flight-control software, the company said Credit: Ted S Warren/AP

Chairman and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg described the production cut as temporary and a response to the suspension of Max deliveries.

Boeing has delivered fewer than 400 Max jets but has a backlog of more than 4,600 unfilled orders. The Chicago-based company had hoped to expand Max production this year to 57 planes a month.

Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines has said it will cancel an order for 49 Max jets. Other airlines, including Lion Air, whose Max 8 crashed off the coast of Indonesia on October 29, have raised the possibility of cancelling.

A Boeing official said Friday’s announcement about cutting production was not due to potential cancellations.

In a statement, Mr Muilenburg said the reduction was designed to keep a healthy production system and maintain current employment — in effect, slowing down production now to avoid a deeper cut later, if fixing the plane takes longer than expected.

Analysts say the absence of deliveries will eat into Boeing’s cash flow because it gets most of the cost of a plane upon delivery.

Boeing declined to provide figures, but undelivered Max jets have been stacking up at its Renton, Washington, assembly plant.

Boeing shares closed at 391.93 US dollars, down 3.93 dollars. In after-hours after news of the production cut, they slipped another 8.98 dollars, or 2.3%, to 382.85 dollars.