Boeing workers exit the plant in front of a giant mural of a jet on the side of the manufacturing building behind, in Renton, Washington. Picture: Elaine Thompson/AP

Washington - US aircraft manufacturer Boeing on Monday said it will temporarily suspend production of its troubled 737 MAX jets in January after the model was connected to deadly accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

"Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage," the company said in a statement.

"We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected.

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

Boeing's statement did not say how long the production halt would last, but noted there would be no layoffs or furloughs "expected at this time."

Affected employees would "continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams," according to Boeing, one of the top private employers in the United States.

The company said the decision was driven by "the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that we can prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft."

The move comes days after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the recertification process for the 737 MAX jets would extend into next year, suggesting there was still a long way to go.

"We have a number of milestones yet to complete," Steve Dickson, administrator of the FAA, told the House transportation committee.

Global aviation regulators grounded the aircraft in March after accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia resulted in the deaths of 346 people.

Boeing is one of the largest exporters in the US. The 737 MAX, produced near Seattle, Washington, is the manufacturer's most important aircraft.

Boeing shares fell more than 4 per cent on Monday amid speculation the company would announce a production suspension.