Earlier this year, Boeing executives suggested that if the grounding persisted beyond this year, the company would consider shutting down the Max production line. Such a move would have enormous economic consequences, most likely resulting in sweeping job losses at Boeing and many of its suppliers.
Yet even if the Max does return to the skies early next year and Boeing avoids shutting down the production line, the grounding’s effect will linger for years. Airlines have had to cancel routes and slow expansion plans. Boeing has a backlog of hundreds of planes to deliver, a process that could take more than a year.
And global aviation regulators, which have historically deferred to the F.A.A., are already exerting more independence. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency recently said it would take a more proactive role in evaluating Boeing’s next jet, the 777X.
Lawmakers in Washington are also continuing their investigation into Boeing and the F.A.A. The House transportation committee plans to hold another hearing on the regulator’s approval of the Max in early December, calling the head of the F.A.A., Stephen Dickson, and potentially other senior leaders at the regulator to testify, according to three government officials familiar with the plans.
Members of the committee plan to grill the officials on how they initially determined the plane’s safety and what actions they took between the first fatal crash, off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, and the second, in Ethiopia in March.
They will also ask about issues unrelated to the software that contributed to both accidents, including the design of rudder cables on the Max. In July, The New York Times reported that before the Max was approved in 2017, managers at the F.A.A. had sided with Boeing over their own safety experts, who wanted the manufacturer to make the cables more redundant to avoid a potentially catastrophic failure. Boeing argued that a failure was so unlikely that a change was unnecessary.
Representatives Peter DeFazio, of Oregon, and Rick Larsen, of Washington, sent the F.A.A. a letter this month demanding that the regulator explain why senior leaders decided not to follow the advice of engineers at the agency about the cables.