Boeing Co has started storing 737 Max jets at a vast Texas maintenance base as the planemaker continues to churn out the single-aisle aircraft while waiting for regulators to lift a global grounding.
Planespotter Chris Edwards picked up the radar track of the first factory-fresh Max to be parked outside the Seattle area as it headed to San Antonio from a paint shop in California.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder confirmed his account.
“The Boeing San Antonio site will temporarily store airplanes as part of our inventory-management plan,” Alder said. The jets eventually “will return to Washington state where they will be delivered to our customers.”
Maintaining and storing the growing fleet of newly built 737s — and managing the inventory costs — is a key concern for Boeing as the grounding enters a third month following two deadly crashes. The planemaker, which is still allowed to do test flights, will eventually need to get the jets to customers once deliveries are cleared to resume. But it may need to do so on a staggered schedule if regulators from China to Canada conduct their own safety reviews.
For now, Boeing employees are working to reduce out-of-sequence work on the jets.
Suppliers from Spirit AeroSystems Holdings to an engine maker owned by General Electric and Safran are working to overcome inconsistent deliveries, Cowen & Co analyst Cai von Rumohr said.
Boeing is finalising an update to Max software that has been implicated in the two accidents. The manufacturer is meeting with customers, and briefing flight attendants and pilots, as it works to restore confidence in the newest version of the 737.