Movement of delayed deliveries set to become one of the biggest logistical operations in modern civil aviation

Boeing has announced plans to add extra staff and hire more temporary employees at an airport in Washington state which is storing many grounded 737 MAX jetliners.

The aircraft have been grounded for six months and the move is a key step towards resuming customer deliveries in October.

Boeing said the “a few hundred” workers will assist with aircraft maintenance and customer delivery preparations at Grant County International Airport. Hundreds of Boeing 737 MAX jets remain grounded worldwide, while the company has continued building the jets at a rate of 42 per month. Boeing is storing newly built aircraft outside its factories in Renton and Everett, around Seattle. It also has jets parked at a facility in San Antonio, Texas. The company also has plans to move all the aircraft from Moses Lake, an eastern Washington location where it runs test flights, to facilities in the Seattle and Everett areas where its factories are located.

One of the biggest logistical operations in modern civil aviation

The plans are the first publicly detailed steps Boeing will take as it works to deliver hundreds of grounded 737 MAX jets to global airlines in what has become one of the biggest logistical operations in modern civil aviation.

Boeing has been unable to deliver any 737 MAX aircraft since the single-aisle plane was grounded worldwide in March following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia which killed 346 people.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled by aircraft across the globe and the MAX has been taken off schedules until late autumn or early 2020.

Boeing said it was working towards getting the 737 MAX flying again commercially in the “early fourth quarter.” The move would be subject to winning approval of reprogrammed software for the stall-prevention system which was found to be the cause of both crashes.

Late last month US Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell said there was “no timeline” for the MAX’s return to service.

He said: “We have one criteria. When the complications to it have been satisfactorily assessed, and the MAX is safe to return to service, that’s the only criteria.”