Boeing 737 MAX Won’t Be Recertified Until 2020 – US Aviation Chief

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company’s factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington.   Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFPs

 

Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, which has been grounded since March following two deadly crashes, will not be cleared to fly until 2020, the top US regulator said Wednesday.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson told CNBC the process for approving the MAX’s return to the skies still has 10 or 11 milestones left to complete, including a certification flight and a public comment period.

“If you just do the math, it’s going to extend into 2020,” Dickson said.

Boeing has been aiming to win regulatory approval this month, with flights projected to resume in January.

But Dickson said, “I’ve made it very clear Boeing’s plan is not the FAA’s plan.” He added that “we’re going to keep our heads down and support the team in getting this report done right.”

Boeing and the FAA have been under intense scrutiny following crashes that together killed 346 people and have prompted Boeing to cut production of the top-selling jet while new plane deliveries are suspended.

Dickson was expected to face another round of tough questioning at a congressional hearing later Wednesday.

Lawmakers have questioned whether the crashes were the result of FAA officials being too cozy with Boeing, leading to lax oversight during the original certification process for the aircraft.

AFP

Southwest Pilots Sue Boeing Over 737 MAX

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company’s factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. PHOTO: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFPs

Pilots from Texas-based Southwest Airlines said on Monday that they had filed a lawsuit against Boeing, accusing it of “deliberately misleading” them over the 737 MAX, which has been grounded after two deadly crashes.

Nearly 350 people died in crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March this year.

“We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft,” captain Jonathan Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), said.

“In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen.”

The grounding of the 737 MAX since March eliminated more than 30,000 scheduled Southwest flights and caused over $100 million in lost wages for pilots, SWAPA said.

Southwest is the largest operator of the 737 MAX, and the aircraft may not return to passenger service until 2020.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Dallas, Texas, said Boeing had falsely claimed the plane was airworthy.

In both crashes, pilots had difficulty controlling the plane once the MCAS anti-stall handling system was activated, according to preliminary investigations.

AFP

Southwest Airlines Again Pushes Back 737 MAX Return Date

File Photo: A Boeing 737 MAX aeroplane is pictured on the company’s production line on March 27, 2019, in Renton, Washington. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

 

Southwest Airlines on Thursday again pushed back its target date for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to service, citing uncertainty about when regulators will permit the jet to fly.

The domestic-focused US carrier pushed the timeframe back about a month to November 2. Boeing’s global 737 MAX fleet has been grounded since mid-March following two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

“We previously revised our flight schedule by removing the MAX through Oct 1 to offer reliability to our operation and stability for our customers,” Southwest said in a statement.

“With the timing of the MAX’s return-to-service still uncertain, we are again revising our plans to remove the MAX from our schedule through Nov. 2.”

The move means Southwest will “proactively remove” about 180 daily flights from its schedule of more than 4,000 flights, the company said.

The revised timeframe puts the Southwest return date at essentially the same time as the planned return at rival carriers United Continental and American Airlines.

Boeing has been working closely with US regulators in the Federal Aviation Administration and other civil authorities on upgrading the planes to enable them to return to service.

The FAA late last month identified a fresh problem during simulator testing, further clouding the outlook for the plane’s return to service.

After initially expecting the planes to return to service within weeks, the airline announcements now suggest the planes won’t be back in the skies until late this year at the earliest.

US Regulators Find New ‘Potential Risk’ In Boeing 737 MAX

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company’s factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. PHOTO: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

 

US regulators said on Wednesday that Boeing must address a new “potential risk” in the Boeing 737 MAX, further clouding the timeframe for resuming service on the planes after two deadly crashes.

The issue, which surfaced during FAA simulator testing, concerns the ability of pilots to quickly reassert control of the plane if an automated flight handling system pushes the plane downward, said a person familiar with the matter.

The Federal Aviation Administration “will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so,” the agency said in an email.

“The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate.”

Boeing said the software fix for the 737 MAX that it has been developing for the last eight months does not currently address the matter.

“The Boeing Company agrees with the FAA’s decision and request and is working on the required software to address the FAA’s request,” Boeing said in a securities filing.

“Boeing will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service.”

In a media statement on Wednesday, the company also said addressing the “condition” would cut pilots’ workloads “by accounting for a potential source of uncommanded stabilizer motion.”

Shares of Boeing fell 0.7 percent to $372.50 in after-hours trading.

– Uncertain timeframe –

Boeing’s global fleet of 737 MAX planes has been grounded since mid-March following two crashes which claimed 346 lives.

A key step in the certification is an FAA test flight, which has still not been scheduled until at least the week of July 8, said a person familiar with the matter.

Even before this latest issue surfaced, the outlook for getting the planes back in the air was uncertain, in part because the FAA would like other regulators to approve the plane’s reentry soon after the US agency.

Some regulators have expressed support for requiring simulator training for pilots on the 737 MAX, an idea that was also endorsed last week by retired pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger at a congressional hearing.

A requirement to have pilot simulator training would add cost and time to a resumption, in part because there are only four 737 MAX simulators out on the market now. Still, some panelists at the hearing noted simulators on earlier Boeing 737 models could potentially be used.

US carriers such as American Airlines and Southwest Airlines recently pushed back their timeframe for flying the planes again until the end of summer.

Much of the attention since the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes has focused on the on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

In both of the MAX crashes, the MCAS pointed the plane sharply downward based on a faulty sensor reading, hindering the pilots’ effort to control the aircraft after takeoff, according to preliminary findings from crash investigations.

AFP

Ethiopian Airlines Crash Report Due Monday: Foreign Ministry

In this file photo taken on November 28, 2017, an Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737-700 aircraft takes off from Felix Houphouet-Boigny Airport in Abidjan. 
ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

A preliminary report from the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max in which 157 people died in Ethiopia will be released on Monday, the foreign ministry said.

“The Ethiopia Ministry of Transport will give a preliminary report into its investigation of the ET 302 plane crash later on Monday,” said Nebiat Getachew, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman.

No details were provided about exactly when the report would be released, or what it might contain.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on March 10, southeast of Addis Ababa.

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Families in 35 nations were left bereaved when the plane went down just minutes after takeoff from the Highland capital on a flight south to neighbouring Kenya, and nose-dived into a field.

A source with knowledge of the investigation has said an anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), was activated shortly before the crash.

Boeing designed the MCAS system, which lowers the aircraft’s nose if it detects a stall or loss of airspeed.

However, the same MCAS system was implicated in the October crash of a 737 MAX 8 airliner off Indonesia which left 189 people dead.

In the Indonesia crash, initial investigations found problems with the MCAS system, when sensors of the plane’s flight details sent wrong information.

The pilot had tried repeatedly to regain control and pull the nose up but the plane smashed into the sea.

Aside from the tragedies of all the casualties, the two crashes have been major blows to aviation giant Boeing, triggering the US manufacturer’s biggest crisis in decades with the MAX 8 model grounded worldwide.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and in many ways the international face of the nation.

AFP

Boeing 737 MAX Makes Emergency Landing During US Transfer: FAA

(FILES) In this October 19, 2015 US Air Force photo, a Boeing KC-46A (L) conducts tests of aircraft acceleration and vibration exposure while flying in receiver formation at various speeds and altitudes over Edwards Air Force Base, California. The US Air Force on January 10, 2019, took delivery of its first KC-46A Pegasus tanker, though the new type of aerial refueler remains beset with technical problems and is not fully operational.
Handout / US AIR FORCE / AFP

 

A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines made an emergency landing Tuesday after experiencing an engine problem as it was being ferried from Florida to California, the US Federal Aviation Agency said.

“The aircraft returned and landed safely in Orlando,” the FAA said in a statement, adding that no passengers were on board the aircraft, which was being transferred to Victorville, California for storage.

READ ALSO: Convicted Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Seeks New Trial

“The FAA is investigating,” added the agency, which has grounded the Boeing 737 MAX following two deadly accidents involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air but continues to allow the planes to be ferried from airport to airport.
AFP

Japan Joins Global Ban On Flights Of Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737 airplanes are pictured on the tarmac at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington on March 12, 2019./ AFP

 

Japan on Thursday joined a global ban on flights of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes in the wake of Sunday’s crash of the medium-haul jets, which killed all 157 people aboard, officials said.

The land and transport ministry ordered overseas carriers not to fly Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to any airports in Japan.

“The ban won’t be lifted until we can confirm its safety,” the official told AFP.

No Japanese airline companies possess Boeing 737 MAX planes, while All Nippon Airways (ANA) plans to buy 30 units of the aircraft.

READ ALSOBoeing 737 MAX Planes Banned From British Airspace

The ministry has not issued any instruction on ANA’s planned purchase, the official said, adding: “Primarily, each private company should make its own decision.”

On Wednesday, the US joined Canada and other countries in grounding the aircraft, saying that new evidence showed similarities between Sunday’s deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and a fatal accident in Indonesia in October.

Ethiopian Airlines said Thursday that the black box flight recorders from the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed have been flown to Paris for analysis.

U.S. Grounds Boeing 737 Max Planes Amid Growing Safety Concerns

U.S. To Ground All Boeing 737 Max Planes
File: US President Donald Trump speaks during the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 6, 2019.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

The ban on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft became worldwide on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump joined Canada and other countries in grounding the aircraft amid intense pressure about the safety concerns.

Demands grew for urgent answers over the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 as Ethiopian and US authorities searched for the cause of Sunday’s deadly crash near the capital of the African nation, which followed a fatal accident in Indonesia in October.

“We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9  planes,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“The safety of the American people and all peoples is our paramount concern.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said the decision was based on new evidence gathered at the crash site near Addis Ababa as well as “newly refined satellite data.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Canada also joined the long list of countries to ban the plane from flying in its airspace and many airlines have voluntarily taken it out of service.

The FAA said it will continue to work with investigators to determine the cause of the crash, while Ethiopia said it would send the black boxes to Europe for analysis.

“Hopefully they will come up with an answer but until they do the planes are grounded,” Trump said of the planes.

Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg said he supported the US decision “out of an abundance of caution,” but continues to have “full confidence” in the safety of the plane.

The company continues its efforts “to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again,” Muilenburg said in a statement.

Preliminary accounts of the Ethiopian Airlines flight appear similar to the Lion Air crash in October, which were echoed in concerns registered by US pilots on how the MAX 8 behaves.

– Pilots concerns –

At least four American pilots made reports following the Lion Air crash, all complaining the aircraft suddenly pitched downward shortly after takeoff, according to documents reviewed by AFP on the Aviation Safety Reporting System, a voluntary incident database maintained by NASA.

In two anonymous reports on flights just after the Lion Air crash, pilots disconnected the autopilot and corrected the plane’s trajectory.

One said the flight crew reviewed the incident “at length… but can’t think of any reason the aircraft would pitch nose-down so aggressively.”

It was unclear if US transportation authorities review the database or investigate the incidents, however, the FAA said this week it had mandated Boeing update its flight software and training on the aircraft.

Questions on the Lion Air crash have honed in on an automated stall prevention system, the MCAS, designed to automatically point the nose of the plane downward if it is in danger of stalling.

According to the flight data recorder, the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the automated MCAS system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down following takeoff.

The Ethiopian Airlines pilots reported similar difficulties before their aircraft plunged into the ground.

Boeing came in for criticism after the Lion Air crash for allegedly failing to adequately inform 737 pilots about the functioning of the anti-stalling system.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam on Sunday said the captain on the flight, Yared Mulugeta Getachew, 29, was an experienced aviator with more than 8,000 flight hours.

Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Tewolde said there were “significant similarities” between the Lion Air and ET 302 crashes.

“There are a lot of questions to be answered on the airplane,” and he later called for all Boeing 737 MAX models to be grounded.

– Banned from the skies –

In Ethiopia, distraught families wept and lit candles as they visited the deep black crater where the plane smashed into a field, killing 157 passengers and crew, an AFP correspondent said.

Ethiopian Airlines said it would decide by Thursday which country would examine the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder recovered from the ill-fated Flight ET 302, spokesman Asrat Begashaw told AFP.

“We are going to send it to Europe but the country is not specified yet,” Asrat said.

The airline said Ethiopia does not have the equipment to read the black box data that could provide crucial information about what happened.

The Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 was less than four months old when it went down six minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on Sunday, disintegrating on impact.

Asrat said families of the victims from Kenya, China, America, and Canada, as well as diplomatic staff from embassies, were visiting the crash site.

Canada Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Ottawa made the decision to close the country’s airspace to the plane given the similarities between the Ethiopian crash and the Lion Air accident.

A dozen airlines have grounded the plane, while Nigeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Serbia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Hong Kong on Wednesday became the latest countries to ban it from their airspace.

The European Union and major hubs such as the United Arab Emirates and Australia had already done so.

American Airlines said it was informed of the FAA decision earlier in the day and had 24 aircraft affected by the US ban, while Southwest Airlines said it was still confirming the move.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle has said it will demand financial compensation from Boeing as the implications of the mass grounding for the airline industry remained unclear.

The MAX series, which is Boeing’s fastest-selling model, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. There are about 350 MAX 8s in service around the world.

Thomas Anthony, head of the Aviation Safety and Security Program at the University of Southern California, said increasing automation of planes means crews have less experience flying manually.

“So it’s not just a mechanical, it is not just a software problem, but it is a problem of communication and trust,” he said.

AFP

Egypt Bans Boeing 737 MAX From Airspace

Boeing 737 airplanes are pictured on the tarmac at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington on March 12, 2019./ AFP

 

Egypt said Wednesday it would bar all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from its airspace following a weekend plane crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people.

The aviation ministry said it was banning the model from “taking off and landing” at Egyptian airports or “passing through” its airspace.

“The civil aviation authority took this necessary precaution to ensure the safety of passengers,” it said in a statement.

Six Egyptians were among those who died on Sunday when a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all those on board.

READ ALSOBoeing 737 MAX Planes Banned From British Airspace

Egypt’s foreign ministry is liaising with Ethiopian authorities to repatriate the bodies.

Its ban on the aircraft follows a string of similar measures by countries including Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the EU’s aviation agency.

Other countries including Serbia and New Zealand also banned 737 MAX flights on Wednesday.

The United States has so far resisted following suit.

Egyptian airports received some 30 million passengers in 2017, according to official figures published in January this year.

The ministry said national carrier Egypt Air has no Boeing 737 MAX aircraft among its fleet and no plans to purchase any.

More than 370 aircraft of the model are in service around the world, with nearly 5,000 on order.

 

Boeing 737 Max Banned In Nigeria, Says Aviation Minister

Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 is banned in Nigeria.

He said that no operator would be allowed to fly the aircraft into or out of the country.

The aviation minister stated this on Wednesday to journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

His statement comes after Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on Sunday morning en route from Addis to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board.

READ ALSONo Boeing 737 Max Operating In Nigeria, Says Aviation Minister

The Federal Government had on Monday reiterated its stands that air travellers in the country have no reason to worry about the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as none is operational in Nigeria.

According to the aviation minister, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has issued the necessary advisory as it relates to the country.

He also urged Nigerian air travellers not to entertain any fear, while assuring them of “the unalloyed commitment of the Buhari Administration to the creation of an environment that guarantees their safety and security in air transportation”.

Countries, Airlines Ground Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737 airplanes, including one for Ethiopian Airlines, fourth from left, are pictured at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington on March 12, 2019./ AFP

 

A number of countries have banned Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 medium-haul workhorse jet from their airspace in response to the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board.

Several airlines have grounded the MAX 8s in their fleets, but many others are continuing to fly the plane pending an investigation into the crash and possible guidance from Boeing itself.

Airlines still operating the model have been restricted by the airspace bans. Air Canada, for example, was obliged to cancel some flights to London because of Britain’s ban on the aircraft.

READ ALSOLebanon Closes Airspace To Boeing 737 MAX

The Nairobi-bound plane was the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October, killing 189 passengers and crew — and some officials have detected similarities between the two accidents.

More than 370 of the 737 MAX 8s are in service around the world, with nearly 5,000 on order.

Here is a round-up of countries and airlines that have banned the 737 MAX:

– Asia-Pacific –
Australia

China

India

Indonesia

Kazakhstan

Malaysia

New Zealand

– Middle East –
Egypt

Kuwait

Lebanon

Oman

United Arab Emirates — including major hub Dubai

Africa
Namibia

Europe
All European Union countries

Serbia

– Airlines –
Outside of countries whose authorities have banned flights of 737 MAX jets, here is a list of individual airlines that have grounded them:

Aerolineas Argentinas

Aeromexico

Cayman Airways

Comair (South Africa)

Eastar Jet (South Korea)

Ethiopian Airlines

Gol Airlines (Brazil)

Icelandair

MIAT Mongolian Airlines

Norwegian Air Shuttle

S7 (Russia)

Lebanon Closes Airspace To Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737 airplanes are pictured on the tarmac at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington on March 12, 2019./ AFP

 

Lebanon’s civil aviation authority said on Wednesday it has banned Boeing 737 MAX passenger jets from the country’s airspace after a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia at the weekend.

The authority also barred the aircraft from taking off and landing in Lebanon, according to a statement carried by the official National News Agency.

On Sunday, a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board.

This followed the October crash of a Lion Air jet of the same model in Indonesia, claiming 189 lives.

READ ALSOBoeing 737 MAX Planes Banned From British Airspace

Despite Boeing’s assurances that the 737 MAX is safe and reliable, countries including Britain, China and India have grounded the model or banned it from their airspace as they await the results of an investigation into the latest crash.

The widening action against the aircraft has put pressure on Boeing — the world’s biggest plane manufacturer — to prove it is safe, and the company has said it is rolling out flight software updates by April that could address issues with a faulty sensor.

There are about 350 MAX 8s currently in service around the world.