SEATTLE/CHICAGO/PARIS (Reuters) – As Boeing Co (BA.N) sets its sights on winning approval to fly its 737 MAX within weeks, following a six-month safety ban, engineers around the world are rolling out plans for one of the biggest logistical operations in civil aviation history.
FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
Inside Boeing’s 737 factory at Renton, Washington, south of Seattle, workers have pre-assembled dedicated tool kits for technicians tasked with installing software updates and readying over 500 jets that have sat idle for months, insiders said.
Across the globe, Boeing teams are hammering out delivery schedules – and financial terms – with airline customers who have been forced to cancel flights, cut routes and fly aging jetliners while they await the MAX’s return.
Although regulators must still approve the jets for flight, Boeing and airline staff and executives say the world’s largest planemaker is weeks into an elaborate blueprint for production, maintenance and delivery that one source said involves 1,500 engineers – as many as it takes to design a small new jet.
Another likened the logistics to a nation “going to war.”
Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Engineer John Hamilton called the previously unreported mobilization more like an elaborate “ballet,” which includes synchronizing 680 suppliers of everything from carbon brakes to pilot seatbelts.
Boeing will have to juggle the delivery of two different MAX categories: some 250 produced since the ban, parked at various facilities in tail-to-nose configurations that conjure