Boeing Temporarily Halts All Puget Sound Production

Boeing's Everett, Washington site.
Credit: Boeing

In a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus Boeing is temporarily suspending production across its Puget Sound sites for 14 days starting March 25.

The production halt comes as other suppliers slow or halt manufacturing and furlough workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has already begun to impact Boeing employees. The company says plans to begin reducing production activity will begin March 23 and will be followed by “additional deep cleaning activities at impacted sites and establishing rigorous criteria for return to work.”

Boeing, which earlier this month instituted a policy requesting Puget Sound area-based employees work remotely, adds that those who cannot do so “will receive paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension—double the company policy—which will provide coverage for the 14 calendar day suspension period.” The action comes amid reports in the Seattle Times that a Boeing employee from the Everett site has died from the disease and that, as of March 21, there were 29 confirmed cases company-wide of which 24 are in the Puget Sound region.

The shut-down will primarily effect production of the 767, 777-300ER, 777X and 787 widebody lines in Everett. Manufacturing of the 737 MAX at the company’s Renton site near Seattle is already suspended, having been shut down in January as part of the recertification and recovery effort for the troubled narrowbody program. The production halt also comes just days after Boeing suspended its share dividend policy and announced an indefinite halt to share repurchasing.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, who announced on Mar. 20 he will forgo all pay through the rest of the year, says the company “regrets the difficulty this (production halt) will cause them, as well as our employees, but it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

The company adds that critical parts distribution to airline, government and maintenance, repair and overhaul operators will continue and that it will work with defense and space program officials to “develop plans that ensure customers are supported throughout this period.”

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.