Boeing Suspends Puget Sound Work Indefinitely; Spirit Reassesses

Boeing's production lines in Washington state are staying closed because of COVID-19.
Credit: Boeing

Boeing’s suspension of aircraft production at its major Puget Sound and Moses Lake, Washington, campuses has been extended “until further notice,” the OEM said April 5.

Major supplier Spirit AeroSystems has announced it is now re-evaluating its related manufacturing following the news. 

“The health and safety of our employees, their families and our communities is our shared priority,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal said. “We will take this time to continue to listen to our incredible team and assess applicable government direction, the spread of the coronavirus in the community and the reliability of our suppliers to ensure we are ready for a safe and orderly return to operations.”

Boeing said the extension comes in light of the leading aerospace and defense company’s continuing focus on the health and safety of its employees, as well as a current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities.

Boeing said its “volunteers” who have been supporting essential site and services work should continue to report to their assigned shifts. Puget Sound and Moses Lake employees who can work from home also should continue to do so. Boeing said sites that remain open are being monitored and assessed “on a daily basis.”

A Boeing representative said 737 MAX recertification work will continue. Much of the work is being done by teams remotely, including with federal aviation regulators. Boeing’s estimate of a return to service remains midyear.

Shortly after the Boeing announcement Sunday afternoon, Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit said it will extend the temporary shutdown of its own Puget Sound operations until further notice. “As a result of the customer’s announcement, Spirit is assessing the re-start of our Boeing programs that was planned for April 8,” Spirit said. The April 8 restart date had been announced just Friday.

Spirit said it will continue to operate as it has since it suspended most of its Boeing operations on March 25. The supplier expects to announce more direction for employees later on April 6 once it has spoken with Boeing.

Worker concerns over being infected with the coronavirus have been an issue throughout the supply chain, according to what some industry consultants have told Aviation Week in recent days. They said some clients have told them absenteeism is hitting 25% or more at certain sites.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.