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Brooke Sutherland

Boeing’s Crisis Goes From Bad to Worse

A pullback in the production of its troubled 737 Max threatens to disrupt its suppliers.



Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg

Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis has been largely self-inflicted, but now it’s passing some of consequences onto its suppliers.

A crash of an Ethiopian Airlines-manned Max in March — just five months after a Lion Air jet of the same type went down — has put the planemaker at the center of a political, legal and increasingly financial firestorm where its reputation for safety is being openly questioned. A fix for a flight-control system that’s believed to have been a factor in both accidents is taking longer than expected amid the scrutiny, and Boeing can’t deliver the planes without it. And so, the company announced late Friday that it will curtail production of the Max to 42 planes per month, down from a current rate of 52. Before all this, Boeing had planned to ramp up production of the Max to 57 a month, an aggressive goal that suppliers had been preparing for by hiring more employees and expanding capacity.