Boeing has resumed production of its troubled 737 MAX aircraft at its factory in Renton, Washington, the company announced in short statement on Wednesday.
Production was suspended in January after the U.S. and other countries prohibited the jets from flying in March 2019 following the second of two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
Airlines have been cancelling delivery of the plane, but Boeing is also reeling from the impact of COVID-19.
Boeing also announced it began laying off 6,770 workers out of some 160,000, part of a total that could reach 16,000 based on earlier plans.
Boeing still faces recertification of the 737 MAX jets by the Federal Aviation Administration, but a timeframe for when that will happen is not known.
On May 19, the FAA announced changes to how new airplanes are certified, but left in place Boeing’s role in the process even though critics said Boeing had made mistakes in certifying the 737 MAX originally, allowing design flaws that led to the crashes, according to The Seattle Times. The report cites concerns about the lastest FAA decision from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.
Gregory Travis, a critic of the safety review process at the FAA and the self-certification by Boeing and others, added in an email to FierceElectronics: “The FAA has caved on clawing back its certification authority and has said that it is going to continue to let Boeing self-certify. That seems insane to me since it was Boeing’s self-certification that led directly to the …tragedy and the very possible extinction of [Boeing].”
Travis also called the restart of 737 MAX production “completely illogical” given the demand by airlines is nearly at zero.
Travis is a veteran pilot and career software engineer who has criticized the Boeing decision to use a flight control software fix known as MCAS in the 737 MAX before the crashes. He has called the MCAS system deficient and has said the culture at Boeing allowed it to be used.