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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Boeing announces grants as part of Moses Lake effort to maintain 737 Max jetliners

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 25, 2019, 6:35 p.m.

In this photo from April 2019, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for Spain-based Air Europa rolls toward takeoff before a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Many of the grounded planes have been sent to Moses Lake for software upgrades and maintenance. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
In this photo from April 2019, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for Spain-based Air Europa rolls toward takeoff before a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Many of the grounded planes have been sent to Moses Lake for software upgrades and maintenance. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

As part of its ongoing effort to maintain hundreds of 737 Max jetliners in Moses Lake, Boeing on Wednesday announced $125,000 in local grants to support that effort.

During the summer, Boeing began hiring hundreds of technicians to work on the grounded 737 Max airplanes. The fleet was grounded worldwide so that Boeing can install a new software package designed to fix the aircraft’s flight control system, which was implicated in crashes in October and March that killed a total of 346 people.

On Wednesday, Boeing announced it will give $100,000 to Big Bend Community College to support pilot and aircraft maintenance technician programs and another $25,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia Basin.

“Boeing offers our sincere appreciation to the Moses Lake community for its long-standing partnership and support,” Kevin McAllister, Boeing president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

Work to store the planes began this summer at a facility in Moses Lake. Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman said the company hopes to have many of the planes ready to go sometime during the fourth quarter.

“That’s kind of our current target,” Bergman said. “It’s all dependent on regulatory approval. We don’t decide the timeline.”

Since the jets will have been parked for half a year prior to the final clearance, crews will need to complete extensive maintenance work on the engines and other systems not related to the upgraded flight-control system. That system has been implicated as a possible cause for the crash of a Lion Air Max in Indonesia and the March crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max.

Following the maintenance, crews will then put the 737 Max aircraft through flight checks to make sure everything is working well.

Bergman would not say how many planes have been sent to Moses Lake for the work, but said the grants were part of a goodwill gesture.

“It’s part of what we want to do to show we are committed to the community,” he said.

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