Before the Max 8 crashes, Boeing was producing around 52 planes per month. The pandemic ground manufacturing to a halt, but the company had been slowly regaining momentum. By the end of last year, the company said it was producing 38 Max planes a month; it had said it planned to increase its production to 42 planes per month this year, and to about 50 in 2025. But the F.A.A.’s directive has halted those plans, possibly for many months.
Further complicating Boeing’s path to recovery is a smaller and less experienced work force than it had before the pandemic. Like it often does when the economy slows, the company laid off, furloughed and bought out many experienced workers. When production restarted, Boeing had to hire or rehire workers.
But this time, like other companies, Boeing has not been able to bring back many of the experienced workers that left during the pandemic, according to Jason Gursky, an analyst at Citi who follows Boeing. Solving the work force issue, Mr. Gursky said, will be instrumental in increasing production.
Another potential problem for the company is that travelers could become more fearful of flying its planes.
Unlike the Max crashes, which were caused by a flaw with the aircraft’s flight-stabilizing system, the Jan. 5 incident appears to be the result of a manufacturing error. Employees at Boeing’s Renton, Wash., factory appear to have opened and reinstalled the door plug that later blew off at 16,000 feet. The National Transportation Safety Board is set to release a preliminary report about the incident in the coming days.