BOEING UPDATE: Profits drop and 787 production to slow, but Max return expected in Q4

Sales tumble 20% but Boeing remains optimistic of Max’s approval to fly before end of the year
Boeing, Boeing 737 MAX, 737 MAX, 737 MAX 8, 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s profits have more than halved over the last three months and sales in its third quarter plunged by over 20% to $20bn as it continues to pick up the pieces from the two 737 Max tragedies.  

The aircraft manufacturer plans to cut the production of its 787 Dreamliner in response to the current global training environment, but it expects the 737 Max to be cleared for service before the end of the year.

Boeing expects an additional $900m of costs resulting from the stalled production of the Max, according to its Q3 report published on Wednesday.

The Max was Boeing’s best-selling commercial aircraft but has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes.

“Our top priority remains the safe return to service of the 737 MAX, and we're making steady progress," said Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

“We've also taken action to further sharpen our company's focus on product and services safety, and we continue to deliver on customer commitments and capture new opportunities with our values of safety, quality and integrity always at the forefront.”   

Boeing’s report stated that it expects the 737 Max to return to service in the fourth quarter of 2019. US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, may well approve the Max for service before the end of the year, but it is understood that its European counterpart, EASA, may take several more weeks to lift the ban after the FAA does.

Boeing expects to fully restore Max production levels by late 2020.

The report stated: “Given the current global trade environment, the 787 production rate will be reduced to 12 airplanes per month for approximately two years beginning in late 2020.”

It added that the 777X program is progressing through pre-flight testing and “remains on track for first flight in early 2020”. The company is now targeting early 2021 for first delivery of the 777X, which is later than its original 2020 estimation.

Boeing issued an update on the Max’s return to service on Wednesday. It said it has made “significant progress” over the past several months to return the plane to service.

It said that it has updated the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Software (MCAS) on the Max by adding three additional layers of protection designed to prevent similar accidents.

Boeing says it has conducted more than 800 test and production flights with the updated software.

Around 140 customers and regulators, including the FAA, have participated in simulator sessions to experience the proposed MCAS software update. Last week Boeing conducted a dry-run of a certification flight test.

Muilenburg added: “We continue to make steady progress in safely returning the 737 MAX to service. Our Boeing teams are unwavering in their commitment to our customers and our values, and the changes we’re implementing now will further strengthen our approach to safety across our company and the aerospace community.”

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