By Andrew Tangel , Andy Pasztor and Doug Cameron
Boeing Co. is considering either halting or further cutting production of the 737 Max amid growing uncertainty over the troubled airplane’s return to service and could disclose a decision as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Boeing (NYS:BA) management increasingly sees pausing production as the most viable among difficult options as the plane maker’s board meets in Chicago starting Sunday, these people said. Support for halting production comes days after U.S. regulators warned the aerospace giant it had been setting unrealistic expectations for the jet to win their approval, these people said.
Cutting production would inflate Boeing’s costs and trigger further charges as fixed expenses would be spread among fewer planes. It could also spur job cuts and furloughs across the global aerospace industry, as well as further disruption to airlines hit by the grounding of a fleet of around 800 jets that is likely to stretch to nearly a year.
Global aviation regulators grounded the Max in March following a second fatal accident in Ethiopia. That accident followed a Max crash less five months earlier in Indonesia. Both accidents took a total of 346 lives. Boeing said in October a production freeze or further cut could be necessary if federal approval of Max flight-control software fixes and training changes extended into 2020.
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