THE GIANT US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has finally called a halt to all production of its 737 Max aircraft after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the company last week that it is withholding safety approval on the plane until 2020.
The 737 Max, Boeing’s best selling plane, caused two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killing a total of 346 passengers and crew and has been grounded since the FAA were forced to temporarily ground it following an international outcry about the plane’s safety.
Despite being grounded in March, Boeing have continued to assemble around 40 planes a month in expectation that a compliant FAA would grant the 737 Max approval, allowing sales to re-start this month.
The FAA decision follows damning evidence at a Congressional hearing last week into the cause of these two crashes – evidence that pointed to the culpability of Boeing and the FAA which ignored warning after warning from engineers and pilots that the aircraft was inherently unstable following modifications designed to boost its profitability for Boeing and its shareholders.
The FAA’s own analysis of the plane following the crashes came to the startling conclusion that, unless major changes were made in its design, up to 15 more fatal crashes could be expected.
In the face of this, the FAA had no option but to withhold approval, plunging Boeing into an acute crisis threatening the very existence of America’s largest manufacturing exporter and one of the biggest private employers in the country.
Boeing employs 12,000 workers at its US 737 assembly plant but in addition supports thousands of jobs in the Max supply network of over 600 companies in the US and across the world.
In Britain, the Boeing supply chain is spread across 65 sites including its first European production facility – opened in Sheffield in 2018 – making components for the 737. All these thousands of jobs in suppliers and airlines face being wiped out as a result of Boeing’s insatiable demand for profit above safety. The impact on Boeing has already been catastrophic.
In July it announced a 35% drop in revenues, while on Monday this week, following the announcement, Boeing’s share prices plummeted slashing the price of a share in the company from $30 to $18. Shares in Boeing supply companies are also crashing in the stock markets.
The impact of Boeing’s crisis threatens not only the existence of the company and thousands of jobs directly involved, but it poses a huge threat to the entire US economy.
As the top manufacturing exporter, Boeing plays a huge role in the US economy with one leading US investment firm estimating that stopping Max production for even three months would reduce the quarterly US GDP growth by 0.3%.
This might not sound a lot but, according to federal figures, the grounding has already ‘dragged on’ the US economy this year even before the latest announcement. Trump’s trade war against China has already caused a contraction in output due to higher costs, and now Boeing has added to the collapse of US manufacturing.
With Boeing on the point of financial collapse and threatening to irretrievably damage US capitalism, the demand will be made that, just like the banks and the motor industry after the 2008 crash, it is ‘too big to fail’ and must be bailed out by the working class.
Capitalism is so weak that the collapse of Boeing threatens to bring down the economy of the biggest capitalist nation in the world – there has never been a better time to put it out of its misery.
The way forward for the working class in the US and throughout the world is the overthrow of this bankrupt capitalist system and to go forward to socialism.
The US working class must fight for Boeing to be nationalised – under the management of workers – along with all the major industries and banks.
The main task of the working class in the US and across the capitalist world is to put an end to the private ownership of industry through the overthrow of capitalism and advancing to socialism.