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FAA and Boeing complete 737 MAX flight tests

The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing today completed three days’ worth of certification flight tests on the Boeing 737 MAX, but it’ll take weeks longer for the FAA to review the fixes that Boeing made and decide whether to end the yearlong grounding of the planes.

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FAA and Boeing begin flight tests for 737 MAX

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration took a major step toward returning the troubled 737 MAX to full operation today with the first of a series of flights aimed at recertifying the jet in the wake of two catastrophic crashes.

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Boeing resumes 737 MAX jet production

737 MAX assembly
The first 737 MAX 8 plane undergoes final assembly at Boeing’s Renton plant in 2015. (Boeing Photo)

Boeing says it has resumed 737 MAX production at its factory in Renton, Wash., with more than a dozen initiatives implemented to enhance product quality and workplace safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Former U.N. envoy breaks with Boeing over aid

Nikki Haley
During her term as South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley paid tribute to the expansion of Boeing’s operations in the state. (South Carolina Governor’s Office Photo / Sam Holland)

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who has been touted as a future presidential candidate, says she’s resigning from Boeing’s board of directors to protest the company’s request for $60 billion in federal aid.

Boeing has been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation industry, as well as the continued grounding of the 737 MAX fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes. This week the company said it supports a minimum of $60 billion in access to private and public liquidity for the aerospace manufacturing industry.

In a letter sent to Boeing CEO David Calhoun and the board, Haley said she couldn’t go along with Boeing’s request.

“I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position,” she wrote. “I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government.”

For that reason, she said she was resigning from the board position that she’s held since last year.

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737 MAX supplier announces 72 layoffs

Senior Aerospace AMT, an Arlington, Wash.-based supplier for the troubled 737 MAX and other Boeing airplanes, says it will lay off 72 employees starting in April.

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737 MAX crisis throws Boeing for a loss

737 MAX assembly
The first 737 MAX 8 plane undergoes final assembly at Boeing’s Renton plant in 2015. (Boeing Photo)

Boeing doubled its estimate for the financial effect of the 737 MAX crisis today and recorded a net annual loss for the first time since 1997 — but the company’s stock price rose nevertheless, reflecting market sentiment that the worst may be over.

An additional $9.2 billion was set aside to cover projected costs associated with the aftermath of two catastrophic crashes involving a 737 MAX 8 jet in Indonesia in 2018 and the same model in Ethiopia in 2019. That brought the total projected cost to $18.4 billion.

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Boeing moves 737 MAX timetable to mid-2020

Boeing 737 MAX 9
A photographer takes a picture of the first Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet during its assembly at the company’s Renton plant in 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Boeing today acknowledged that it doesn’t expect 737 MAX airplanes to be back in service until mid-2020, months later than previously projected.

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Boeing goes negative in 2019 on net airplane orders

Parked 737 jets
Dozens of 737 MAX jets were parked at Seattle’s Boeing Field in July, as seen in a Planet SkySat satellite image. (Planet Image Processed by Leanne Abraham)

Amid its 737 MAX crisis, Boeing Commercial Airplanes is reporting a negative number for net orders in 2019, meaning that it booked more cancellations than new orders over the course of the past year.

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In a reversal, Boeing calls for 737 MAX training

Boeing CEO in 737 MAX cockpit
Two Boeing test pilots check out a 737 MAX plane with updated flight control software in April 2019 while then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg watches from behind. Muilenburg was forced out of his corporate role last month due to his handling of the 737 MAX controversy. (Boeing Photo / Paul Weatherman)

Months after two accidents forced the worldwide grounding of 737 MAX passenger jets, Boeing is now recommending that pilots go through new rounds of MAX simulator training before the planes return to service.

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Year in Aerospace: Past troubles, future triumphs

737 MAX assembly
The first 737 MAX 8 plane undergoes final assembly at Boeing’s Renton plant in 2015. (Boeing Photo)

2019 was a tough year for the aerospace industry — a year when a control system flaw caused the second catastrophic crash of a 737 MAX jet and sparked a worldwide grounding of Boeing’s fastest-selling plane.

Nine months after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157 people, the 737 MAX is still grounded. Boeing’s CEO and the head of its commercial airplanes unit have been replaced, and the prospects for the MAX’s return to flight are uncertain.

It’s not a good-news story. But it’s the biggest aerospace story of 2019 — especially for the Puget Sound region, where the 737 MAX and most of Boeing’s bigger airplanes are made.

I’ve been highlighting the top stories on the aerospace beat in year-end roundups for 22 years, and it’s hard to think of a bigger transitional time than 2019-2020 (though 2011-2012, marking the end of the space shuttle era, comes close).

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