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Report: FAA could soon lift grounding order on 737 MAX

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 10:56 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Federal Aviation Administration could lift the grounding order on the 737 MAX as soon as next week. CBS News reports from the head of the FAA that the agency is near the finish line, but will only lift the order after safety experts are satisfied with improvements.

“Boeing has addressed the safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. In keeping with the thorough and transparent process that we’ve followed during the past 20 months, the FAA continues to engage with aviation authorities around the world as they prepare to validate our certification decision,” a statement from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.

Even once the government gives approval for the aircraft to take flight, the aviation industry still faces a global pandemic that could take years to fully recover. Keith Lawing is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Inc. He says it was hard building consumer confidence in the 737 MAX after two crashes killed 346 people. Now, he says consumer confidence in flying during a pandemic.

“This week, also the great news is the development of the vaccine for COVID. so I think those two things coming together should really help our local aviation industry in 2021,” Lawing said.

Through the 737 MAX crisis and the pandemic, Spirit AeroSystems has laid off thousands of workers in 2020 alone. Now, experts predict the company will slowly call employees back to clear the backlog of fuselages that have sat in the parking lot since January.

”With attrition, they’re going to need to call workers back anyways within 2021, this will probably increase the pace with some of those recalls I would predict,” said Lawing.

When Spirit AeroSystems stopped production, it impacted dozens of small suppliers in and surrounding Wichita. Some companies have had inventory sitting in their warehouse since January and don’t expect to deliver the product for some time.

“It’s very hard on a small company. A lot of companies are not going to be open. They aren’t going to have the cash to start up. I think that’s going to be a big problem for Boeing and Spirit going forward. They have not received the funding to sustain something like a MAX shutdown and a pandemic,”said Greg Valcoure, Chief Operations Officer at HM Dunn Aerosystems.

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