Boeing is temporarily halting the production of the grounded 737 MAX.

The US aerospace firm said it will halt commercial production of the model in January.

It comes after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would not approve the plane’s return to service before 2020.

The Boeing jet crashed into a field 30 miles from the runway at the Addis Ababa airport
Image: A Boeing 737 MAX crashed into a field 30 miles from the runway at the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia

All versions of the 737 MAX were grounded worldwide in March – days after an Ethiopian Airlines jet came down outside Addis Ababa, and five months after a Lion Air flight suffered a similar fate in the Java Sea.

A total of 346 people died in the two crashes.

Boeing has been working with US regulators to ensure the planes are safe – with modifications focusing on an anti-stall device called the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in the hope of returning the 737 MAX to service.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not now expected to grant clearance for US flights until January at the earliest, according to US officials.

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European regulators would need to give their own approval at a later date, with pilots also having to undergo re-training before 737 MAX commercial operations could resume within European airspace.

A statement from Boeing said: “Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority.

“We know that the process of approving the 737 MAX’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates.

“As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritise the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.”

The company said it did not expect any job losses “at this time”.

Boeing has continued to produce 737 MAX jets at around 42 per month, while also purchasing parts from suppliers at a rate of up to 52 units per month. Deliveries have been frozen until regulators approve the aircraft to fly commercially again.

Earlier this month, the chief executive of Ryanair said the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet is costing the airline at least €100m (£84m) a year.