- More than 100 acres of land with ramp space connecting to the runways at the Grant County International Airport in central Washington could offer Boeing a solution to the now grounded and accumulating 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The company has used the space to store parts in the past, Richard Hanover, the director of business development for the airport, told Supply Chain Dive.
- The land, owned by Boeing, is about 180 miles east of its Renton, Washington, facility outside Seattle where Boeing manufactures aircraft, including the grounded planes. These models have been grounded in dozens of countries after the MAX 8 was involved in two deadly crashes. Boeing is continuing production of the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models, but it announced last week plans to pause delivery.
- Boeing bought the land when the airport was an Air Force base and Boeing delivered B-52 planes there, Hanover said. The Puget Sound Business Journal was the first to report on the land.
It is not clear what changes Boeing is making to its supply chain to deal with the finished planes it has coming off the production line, but this land near the Grant County International Airport could play a role in helping to store the planes.
Although the planes are prohibited from flying with passengers, the grounding order from the Federal Aviation Administration allows special permits to be acquired for "non-passenger carrying flights, as needed, for the purpose of flight to a base for storage, production flight testing, repairs, alterations or maintenance."
Boeing did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the company's production plans for the plane now that the grounding has taken effect and deliveries are at a standstill.
This grounding is likely to end up being costly for Boeing. The airlines with the grounded planes in their fleet can seek compensation from Boeing, Haresh Gurnani, the executive director of the Center for Retail Innovation at Wake Forest University, told Supply Chain Dive last week. One estimate by Bloomberg places this cost at $100 million per month, with the potential to increase by $12 million per month going forward.
To complicate matters even further for the company, U.S. prosecutors are now looking into the development of the Boeing 737 Max planes and how they were regulated by the FAA, according to the Associated Press. An investigation by the Seattle Times found the oversight of the 737 development process may have been streamlined by the FAA, missing potential flaws.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a statement earlier this week saying the company will soon "release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident."