CHICAGO – The global grounding of Boeing’s most popular model is likely to generate a host of business challenges for the aerospace giant, which is already wrestling with the reputational fallout from the crash of one of its planes and a swift reaction outside the United States.
Boeing’s race with rival Airbus SE to meet surging international demand for air travel helped make Boeing the top US exporter by sales and the most valuable component of the Dow Jones Industrial Index.
Boeing has more than 100,000 employees around the world and a supply chain that spans the planet.
That corporate engine runs on cash generated by orders for its most popular plane, the 737 MAX. Boeing has amassed orders for more than 5,000 of the jetliners.
It isn’t clear how two crashes in the past five months – among 370-plus jetliners that have entered service to date – will affect that order book and Boeing’s strong recent share performance.
But as airlines and air-safety officials around the world ground the bulk of that fleet and ask Boeing to address the plane’s potential safety problems, Boeing and Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg face the task of keeping a major engine of the US economy on track.
Muilenburg spent much of Wednesday at Boeing’s main jetliner production facilities in the Seattle area, according to a person familiar with the matter.
He also walked the floor at Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton, Wash., talking with employees, this person said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the grounding would have implications for Boeing’s plan to boost 737 output, the person said. The FAA’s order appeared to leave room for finished 737s to fly from the small airport by its Renton factory before eventual delivery.
That would ease potential bottlenecks for unfinished planes at the airport, which has little space for parking the jets.
But the global