A worker walks near a mural of a Boeing 777 airplane on March 23, 2020, at the company’s manufacturing facility in Everett. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File)

A worker walks near a mural of a Boeing 777 airplane on March 23, 2020, at the company’s manufacturing facility in Everett. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File)

With 747 out, Boeing to open new 737 Max line at Everett’s Paine Field

Since the last 747 rolled out of the factory, speculation has been rife that Boeing might move some 737 Max production to Everett.

EVERETT — Boeing will begin building some 737 Max aircraft at the company’s Paine Field assembly plant starting next year.

The new line will open at the Everett plant in the second half of 2024, according to a note Monday to employees from Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing’s commercial-planes business.

The Boeing Co. is not relocating the entire 737 program, just adding capacity, especially for newer models of the Max, like the -8200 and 737-10, Deal wrote.

The Everett addition comes in response to “strong product demand” and a backlog of orders for the Max, Boeing’s best-selling plane, Deal told workers.

“To be clear, we are not taking the 737 out of Renton — just adding capacity to capture customer demand,” Deal wrote in the note. “Given the proximity to Renton, Everett is a great fit with the availability of highly-skilled workers and factory space.”

The sprawling Everett plant is about 40 miles north of the company’s three Renton 737 assembly lines, one of which has been idle but is being reactivated, Deal said.

Most 737 Max workers will remain in Renton.

However, a small group, along with some Everett workers and some new hires, will help open the fourth line in Everett, known as the North Line, Deal said.

“These teammates will have local Everett management, but tree up to the 737 MAX program office,” Deal said.

“In addition to preparing the facility, we have begun the process of notifying and preparing our suppliers, customers, unions and employees as we take the necessary steps to create a new line. We are methodically working through all of our checks and balances keeping safety and quality top of mind,” Deal said.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, hailed Monday’s announcement.

“Boeing’s decision to establish a fourth MAX assembly line in Everett is great news!” Larsen said. “Northwest Washington is home to the best aerospace workers in the world, and local communities and the regional economy stand to benefit as Boeing transitions to building a new legacy through the assembly of MAX aircraft in Everett.”

It’s a big change for the Everett assembly plant, which has served as the company’s wide-body aircraft production center since opening its doors in 1967. With the 737’s arrival, the factory will begin producing a narrow-body jet.

Since the 737’s debut in 1967, the single-aisle jet has been built in Renton.

Local lawmakers said Boeing’s announcement Monday bodes well for Snohomish County, home to some 200 aerospace firms.

“I have long said that Snohomish County’s aerospace future is secure and bright, and today’s announcement just confirms that reality,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement. “As we say a fond farewell to the Queen of the Skies, we welcome her younger sibling, the 737 MAX. We will continue to be the heart of the global aerospace industry and look forward to the innovations that will continue to thrive at Snohomish County’s Paine Field Airport.”

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said she was proud that Boeing chose Everett for the newest 737 MAX assembly line, ”bringing additional jobs to our community and creating more opportunities for our experienced and skilled workforce.”

“I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of our local aerospace sector and our continued partnership with Boeing and am committed to actively supporting them and the entire industry’s growth here,” Franklin said.

Space at the Everett plant became available when Boeing shifted production of the larger 787s to South Carolina in 2021 and ended production of the iconic 747 late last year.

The last 747 built is being delivered to its customer, Atlas Air, on Tuesday. Jan. 31.

Since the last Boeing 747 rolled out of the factory in December, speculation has been rife that Boeing might move some or all 737 Max production to the Everett campus.

Workers at the Everett plant said they’d heard murmurings that the jet maker might bring some 737 Max production to the Paine Field campus.

Aviation analysts also weighed in, wondering if the 747 or 787 bay might be used for production of a new Boeing passenger plane, informally referred to as the 797 or NMA, the new mid-market airplane. But hopes for a new Boeing passenger aircraft were dashed late last year, when Boeing’s CEO David Calhoun said the company would not introduce a new airplane until the mid-2030s.

The 737 Max was grounded worldwide for nearly two years after two deadly crashes involving a flight-control system that Boeing later overhauled.

Since U.S. and other regulators cleared the Max to resume flying, Boeing has landed large orders from United, Delta, Southwest and foreign airlines.

The 737 Max is currently being produced at a rate of 31 planes per month at the Renton plant. The company has said it plans to boost production to 50 planes a month in 2025 or 2026.

Material from Associated Press is included in this report.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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