Southwest Airlines push Boeing 737 Max flight cancellations into June

Cheryl Sanders
January 17, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Boeing Co BA.N to move quickly to resolve issues with the grounded 737 MAX, noting the planemaker's significant impact on the U.S. economy.

American Airlines Group Inc has extended cancellations of Boeing Co 737 MAX flights through June 3 as the grounding threatens to impact a second busy United States summer travel season.

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA said last year its Dublin-based leasing subsidiary had reached an agreement with Boeing to postpone delivery of 14 737 MAX planes that were originally due this year and next year.

Despite the recent release of damning documents, the committee described the FAA's certification process as "rigorous, robust and overseen by engineers, inspectors, test pilots and managers committed to the primacy of safety", noting that the FAA needed five years to finally certify the MAX.

The special committee of aviation and safety experts was set up by the US Department of Transportation in response to the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Key lawmakers have said they may try to stop the FAA from letting Boeing do some inspections and safety analysis on its own planes.

The report also found "FAA's overall certification system to be effective". Its mission was "to collect and analyze information, not find fault". But the ratio of delegated tasks changed through the years "as the FAA's confidence in the aircraft design and related risk analyses evolved, including Boeing's ability to manage such elements". The airline previously said the grounding cut operating income by $830 million in 2019.

Once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives 737 MAX approval to return to service, American will need at least 30 days to prepare the jets and its pilots for commercial flights, airline and union officials have said.

Investigators have implicated new automated flight control software called MCAS as a factor in the crashes.

Analysts estimate that Boeing has been losing around $1bn a month because of the grounding, and the company reported an nearly $3bn negative free cash flow in the third quarter.

A faulty sensor caused the system to activate before the two disasters, pushing down the nose of both planes.

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