Home / Tech / Boeing's 737 Max crisis is wreaking havoc on the small town where it builds the grounded plane (BA)

Boeing's 737 Max crisis is wreaking havoc on the small town where it builds the grounded plane (BA)

Boeing 737 Max plans parked at Renton Airport Washington

  • The mayor of Renton, Washington, where the troubled Boeing 737 Max is built has a few thoughts about the toll that the grounded plane has taken on the residents of his city.
  • “There’s no question it was devastating,” Denis Law said about the town of nearly 100,000 people.
  • Renton, the small suburb just to the southeast of Seattle has been home to the aerospace giant’s most successful plane program — the 737 — for decades. The 737 Max has been grounded since March, following two crashes that killed more than 300 people.
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The Mayor of Renton, Washington isn’t happy about Boeing’s 737 Max crisis.

The small suburban town just to the southeast of Seattle has been home to the aerospace giant’s most successful plane program — the 737 — for decades. The assembly line for the Max, now grounded after two deadly crashes, employs 12,000 people who previously churned out 52 of the jets every month.

But as the plane remains grounded around the world, and the fix to the deadly software delayed numerous times, Boeing is scaling back production. Renton, meanwhile, is taking a massive economic hit from the slowdown.

Read more: Boeing says it could suspend 737 Max production if grounding continues, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk

“There’s no question it was devastating,” Denis Law, mayor of the roughly 100,000 person town, told MyNorthwest.com. “It was devastating in the fact that over 350 lives were lost in a very short period of time, with two of what we’ve always felt were the best jets built in the entire world. We’ve been proud of bragging to people that every 737 flying throughout the world today was built in our city.”

So far, the impact has been minimal, he said. Boeing has only scaled back production to 42 planes per month, about 20% below its peak. The company is eyeing a ramp-up to 57 planes a month by 2020, but only if its software fix is approved in a timely fashion.

“If our estimate of the anticipated return to service changes, we might need to consider possible further rate reductions or other options including a temporary shutdown of the Max production,” CEO Denis Muilenburg told Boeing investors and Wall Street analysts on the company’s second quarter earnings call last week.

In total, Boeing employs more than 16,000 people in Renton, easily making it the city’s top employer.

“When you’re raising a family and you’re expecting a paycheck and to suddenly be laid off, that’s really difficult for people — that’s the real impact,” Mayor Law told MyNorthwest. “So hopefully, if it were to happen, it would be for a real short period of time,” he said of any potential layoffs connected to Boeing’s production slowdown.

“It would be a huge loss to the state not to have Boeing continue to have its robust manufacturing in our economy,” he said.

More on Boeing’s 737 Max crisis: 

  • The CEO of one of the world’s largest airlines said Boeing needs to get its ‘s— together’ as the ongoing 737 Max crisis hits the carrier’s profits
  • A former Boeing 737 Max engineer said he was ‘incredibly pressurized’ to keep costs down and downplay new features to avoid FAA scrutiny
  • Boeing reportedly kept the FAA in the dark about big changes it made to the 737 Max’s flight-control software late in its development

SEE ALSO: Boeing says it could suspend 737 Max production if grounding continues, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk

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