Boeing (NYSE:BA) CEO David Calhoun said Friday he expects to restart production of the company's grounded 737 Max jet this month, moving forward with low rate production ahead of the airplane winning regulatory approval to resume flying.

The 737 Max has been grounded since March 2019 following a pair of fatal crashes. Boeing even suspended production earlier this year due to the growing backlog of planes it had manufactured but was unable to deliver. The company has missed several self-imposed deadlines to return the plane to service, and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused further complications to testing and communicating with regulators, but Boeing believes it will have the plane in the air again in the third quarter.

Boeing's 737 Max on display at an airport.

Image source: Boeing.

Calhoun, speaking to Fox Business on Friday, said "I am confident we will start our line this month on the Max." The company said last month it was shooting for a low rate return to production in the second quarter, and appears from Calhoun's comments to still be on track to hit that goal.

Boeing shares are beating the market on Friday, up 3.3% as of 1:30pm, but the shares are off nearly 60% year to date due to the 737 Max issues and a pandemic-induced slump in airlines that is going to impact overall new plane sales.

The company lost $1.35 billion in the first quarter, and bled through $4.7 billion in cash. While earnings are likely to be depressed for some time due to low demand for new planes, getting the Max cleared to fly again and restarting deliveries is a key to stemming Boeing's cash burn.

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