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Boeing will cut 737 production as it works to get MAX planes back in the air

(Lindsey Wasson/Reuters via CNN)

CHICAGO — Boeing is cutting its 737 production rate as the company works to return the MAX airplanes to flight.

“As we continue to work through these steps, we’re adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in MAX deliveries, allowing us to prioritize additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the MAX to flight,” CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement Friday. “We have decided to temporarily move from a production rate of 52 airplanes per month to 42 airplanes per month starting in mid-April.”

Muilenburg was talking about the company’s entire 737 production system, which includes more than just the Max line of jets. But most are Max planes.

The Max came under scrutiny following two crashes in the span of about five months involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines. A total of 346 people died in the two accidents.

All of Boeing’s 737 Max planes were grounded after the crash in Ethiopia last month.

In a new statement Friday, Muilenburg also said he has asked the company’s board to establish a committee that will review the policies and processes Boeing uses to design and develop its airplanes.

That committee will look at how effective the company is able to assure the “highest level of safety” for the Max planes, as well as Boeing’s other planes.

The latest decision comes the day after a preliminary report on the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy showed that the pilots of that plane performed all of the aircraft manufacturer’s procedures, but were unable to control the jet before it crashed.

On Thursday, Boeing recognized the similarities between the two crashes, and acknowledged the role of its anti-stall system. The Ethiopian report does not specifically name that system, but its findings seem to indicate that the system pushed the plane into a dive fueled by erroneous angle of attack sensor readings.

Boeing is working to develop a software fix that will get the 371 grounded 737 Max jets back in the air.

Muilenburg also said Thursday that the company was “sorry for the lives lost” in the 737 Max crashes.

“The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events,” he wrote in his apology. “This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents.”

Boeing’s stock dipped nearly 2% in after-hours trading Friday.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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