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Boeing has restarted its Renton, Washington, facility's production of the 737 MAX at a "low rate" after halting production in January. The company will gradually ramp up production over the next year as it implements more than a dozen initiatives focused on "enhancing workplace safety and product quality.”
Boeing said that during the temporary suspension, the company’s mechanics and engineers worked together to “standardize work packages” and revamp the “kitting process” to ensure that employees have everything they need to build the airplane.
“We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger,” Walt Odisho, the vice president and general manager of the 737 program, said in a statement. “These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX.”
The move comes after Boeing temporarily closed all of its Seattle-area facilities in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Boeing announced it would reopen its facilities in Washington's Puget Sound area and Philadelphia to resume 737 production after implementing new measures to keep its employees safe.
The pandemic has hammered the company, resulting in a loss of $641 million in the first quarter, roughly 150 order cancellations for the 737 Max and a delay in the plane's regulatory approval from the FAA.
The FAA has yet to clear the plane after finding a software glitch linked to two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people. As a result of the crashes, the plane manufacturer is facing criminal and civil probes by Department of Justice prosecutors and regulators.
Airlines have been prohibited from flying the 737 Max since March 2019.
The pandemic has also slammed the airline industry as a whole, with Boeing's CEO, David Calhoun, predicting it could take up to five years for the airline industry to fully recover from the pandemic and that one of the major airlines may go out of business.
Boeing has been working with competitor Airbus to learn more about the coronavirus' risks associated with air travel. In addition, Boeing launched the Confident Travelers initiative aimed at encouraging passengers to get back on planes.
Boeing stock closed at $149.52 per share at the end of Wednesday's trading session, up more than 3 percent. The stock is up more than 4 percent in after-hours trading.