US Threatens Tariffs On EU Products Over Airbus Subsidies

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 7, 2018, the logo of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is pictured outside the entrance of the site of Airbus’ Wings Campus in Blagnac following a European company council.
PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

 

A simmering transatlantic trade row risked escalating on Tuesday after the US threatened to impose tariff counter-measures of up to $11.2 billion on a host of European products.

The threatened US tariffs are in response to subsidies received by aircraft maker Airbus and target a host of European products including helicopters, aircraft parts and gouda cheese.

The riposte come amid a fragile truce between the EU and the US after President Donald Trump angered Europe last year by slapping duties on steel and aluminium imports and threatening new ones on cars.

For more than 14 years, Washington and Brussels have accused each other of unfairly subsidising Boeing and Airbus, respectively, in a tit-for-tat dispute that long predates Trump.

READ ALSO: EU Unveils Ethics Guidelines For Artificial Intelligence

The Boeing-Airbus spat is the longest and most complicated dispute dealt with by the WTO, which aims to create a level playing field in global trade.

In a statement Monday, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said the  World Trade Organization (WTO) had repeatedly found that European subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action,” said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

EU Hits Back

The EU fired back on Tuesday, saying that the amounts claimed by the US were “greatly exaggerated”.

“The figure quoted by USTR is based on US internal estimates that have not been awarded by the WTO,” the commission official added.

Both sides, however, agreed that the size of the duties was subject to arbitration at the WTO, the result of which was expected in the summer.

Both aviation giants have scored points along the way in the marathon dispute.

The WTO ruled in March 2012 that billions of dollars of subsidies to Boeing were illegal and notified the United States to end them.

But a few months later, the European Union filed a new complaint, alleging Washington was not complying with that order.

In a split ruling published in June 2017, the WTO said the US had mostly brought programs into compliance but agreed that Washington had not taken “appropriate steps to remove the adverse effects or… withdraw the subsidy” in the one case.

Brussels was also reprimanded by the WTO during the Airbus-Boeing row, and the US asked the WTO to determine the amount it could impose in sanctions against the European Union for failing to remove subsidies.

Transatlantic Tensions

The USTR said Monday that once that report is issued, it will announce a finalised product list.

Airbus in a statement said the list was “totally unjustified”, while archrival Boeing said that it supports Washington’s “ongoing efforts to level the playing field”.

“Boeing has consistently supported US compliance with WTO rulings. It’s now time for the EU to follow that example and end all illegal government support for Airbus,” Boeing said.

The revived spat comes at a sensitive time for transatlantic relations.

Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July agreed to launch trade talks and refrain from imposing further tariffs in a bid to cool tensions.

“I plead for an amicable agreement,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference in Paris.

“When I look at the growth situation worldwide, I cannot believe we can allow a trade conflict, even in the sole area of aeronautics, between the United States and Europe,” he added.

The tariff threat also comes at a critical time for Boeing, caught in a crisis over its 737 MAX aircraft that is grounded over safety fears following two fatal accidents.

AFP

 

 

Boeing Must Do More Work On Proposed 737 Fix – US Regulator

RENTON, WA – MARCH 27: A Boeing 737 MAX airplane is pictured on the company’s production line on March 27, 2019 in Renton, Washington.  Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

 

Boeing needs to undertake additional work on its proposed fix to the 737 MAX before it can be submitted for US review, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Monday.

The FAA, signaling Boeing’s proposed changes to the anti-stall system after two deadly crashes are still not adequate, expects Boeing to submit the plan “over the coming weeks” following more work, an agency spokesman said.

“The FAA will not approve the software for installation until the agency is satisfied with the submission,” an agency spokesman said.

Embattled Boeing Unveils Fix To Flight System After Deadly Crashes

RENTON, WA – MARCH 27: A Boeing 737 MAX airplane is pictured on the company’s production line on March 27, 2019, in Renton, Washington. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

 

Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged on Wednesday to do all it can to prevent crashes like the two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters to unveil the changes to the MCAS stall prevention system, which has been implicated in the tragedies in Ethiopia and Indonesia, as part of a charm offensive to restore the company’s reputation.

“We are going to do everything to make sure that accidents like this don’t happen again,” Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy, told reporters at a factory in Washington.

Meanwhile, the head of the US air safety agency faced harsh questions from senators over its relationship with and oversight of Boeing.

Dan Elwell, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, defended his agency but acknowledged that as systems become more complex, the FAA’s “oversight approach needs to evolve.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other top officials were also on the hot seat on Capitol Hill.

Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg was not called to the Senate hearing, but is expected to testify at a later date.

Ahead of the tough questioning, the company launched a campaign to convince the flying public that it is addressing the issues with the 737 MAX, including a fix to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) implicated in the deadly crashes.

At the company’s massive factory in Renton, Washington, Boeing unveiled the software changes and offered reassurances.

Sinnett said it will take only about an hour to install the updates and they can begin as soon as regulators authorize the changes, which were developed “after months of testing and hundreds of hours.”

Authorization pending

The MCAS, which makes the aircraft dive in order to regain speed if it detects a stall or loss of airspeed, was developed specifically for the 737 MAX, which has a heavier engine than its predecessor, the 737 NG.

Among the changes, the MCAS will no longer repeatedly make corrections when the pilot tries to regain control, and will be automatically disconnected in the event of disagreements between the two “angle of attack” (AOA) sensors, the company said.

This is a major change because until the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy earlier this month, the MCAS was set to react to information from a single sensor and would repeatedly override pilot corrections.

The initial investigation into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October found that one of the AOA sensors failed but continued to transmit erroneous information to the MCAS.

Boeing also will install a warning feature — at no cost — called a “disagree light” to indicate to the pilot when the left and right AOA sensors are out of sync.

The company also is revising pilot training, including for those already certified on the 737, to provide “enhanced understanding of the 737 MAX” flight system and crew procedures.

US pilots complained after the Lion Air crash that they had not been fully briefed on the system.

‘Directly involved’

In Washington, US aviation regulators faced questions about how certification for the MAX was handled.

Lawmakers also want to know why officials did not immediately ground the aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff near Addis Ababa on March 10, killing all 157 people onboard.

The delay has given rise to suspicions of a too-cozy relationship between regulators and the American planemaker, especially since Chinese and European authorities moved quickly to ban the planes as soon as similarities with the Lion Air crash were raised.

The FAA — which delegates some certification procedures to Boeing, including for parts of the MAX — was “directly involved” in the safety review of the MCAS, Elwell said.

“The certification process was detailed and thorough,” but “time yields more data,” he added.

A Boeing official meanwhile said there was no need to revamp a regulatory process that has “continued to lead to safer and safer airplanes.”

At a separate hearing, Chao said she was “concerned about any allegations of coziness with any company,” but noted that allowing Boeing to handle some of its own safety certifications was necessary because the FAA “can’t do it on their own.”

She said she has ordered the Transportation Department’s inspector general, Calvin Scovel, to investigate the MAX certification, and Scovel, in turn, noted various concerns with FAA inspectors and procedures.

In his prepared testimony, he called on the agency to tighten oversight of companies that self-certify.

But a Boeing official countered that wholesale changes were not needed, saying: “In general, the process has worked and continues to work, and we see no reason to overhaul the process.”

AFP

Boeing Will ‘Do Everything’ To Prevent Crashes – Official

Employees work in the cargo hold of a Boeing 727 MAX 9 test plane outside the company’s factory, on March 14, 2019 in Renton, Washington.
STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Embattled aviation giant Boeing will do all it can to prevent future crashes like the two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, a company official said Wednesday.

“We are going to do everything to make sure that accidents like this don’t happen again,” Mike Sinnet, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy, told reporters.

READ ALSOBoeing 737 MAX Makes Emergency Landing During US Transfer: FAA

Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters at its factory to unveil a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft, which has been implicated in the latest air disasters.

 

‘Ethiopian Airlines Believes In Boeing’ Despite Crash, Says CEO

Rescue team walk past collected bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. Michael TEWELDE / AFP

 

Ethiopian Airlines “believes in” Boeing despite the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane that killed all 157 people on board and led to the model’s grounding, the carrier’s CEO said on Monday.

“Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years,” Tewolde GebreMariam wrote in a statement.

Flight ET 302 crashed on March 10 just minutes into its flight to Nairobi.

It was the second disaster for the 737 MAX 8 since the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air Jet that killed all 189 passengers and crew. Aviation regulators responded by grounding the model around the world.

READ ALSO: Crashed Ethiopian Airlines Black Box Recovered

Ethiopia’s transport minister has said “clear similarities” exist between the two crashes based on an analysis of black box data, without giving further details.

Tewolde called for the 737 MAX 8’s grounding after the crash, but in the Monday statement struck a conciliatory tone towards the American plane manufacturer whose models make up the majority of the Ethiopian fleet.

“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” he said.

AFP

Boeing Upgrades Software On Crisis-Hit 737 MAX After Deadly Crash

Employees work in the cargo hold of a Boeing 727 MAX 9 test plane outside the company’s factory, on March 14, 2019 in Renton, Washington.
STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Boeing is upgrading the stall prevention software on its 737 MAX, industry sources said Friday, as French investigators scoured black box data from the latest of two deadly crashes involving the aircraft in recent months.

The MAX has been grounded worldwide following Sunday’s Ethiopia Airlines disaster that killed all 157 on board, and the fallout has left the company, regulators and airlines scrambling to respond.

Boeing will fine-tune its MCAS system — implicated in the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia in October — within 10 days, said two sources, who cautioned that the cause of the latest crash has yet to be determined.

READ ALSO: Thousands Of Algerians Protest Despite Bouteflika’s Vow Not To Run

Boeing has halted deliveries of its top-selling model ahead of the software patch, which was already underway prior to the latest incident near Addis Ababa.

Asked for details about the timeline for the fix, a Boeing spokesman Friday would only say it would be installed in “coming weeks.”

The black boxes from the Ethiopian craft, which was only a few months’ old and crashed minutes after take-off, are being analysed by the French authorities to determine the cause of the accident.

An Ethiopian delegation delivered the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, which were damaged in the disaster, to France’s BEA air safety agency to begin the investigation on Friday.

The Lion Air crash also came just minutes after takeoff, killing 189 people, and US authorities say there is evidence of similarities between the accidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said findings from the crash site and “newly refined satellite data” warranted “further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents.”

Several American pilots also reported issues with the MCAS and the FAA said it had ordered Boeing to issue a fix by April.

The aerospace giant held a conference call on Thursday with at least three carriers using the 737 MAX and gave them the patch, one source said, and the other airlines will get it early next week.

Meanwhile, American pilots have raised questions about the training provided to the flight crews.

One who flew a MAX 8 on Monday told AFP that US-trained pilots — many of whom come from the military — would have been able to react quickly to the MCAS flaw, if that occurred in the accident last weekend.

And Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger — noted for his safe landing of a damaged plane on the Hudson River in New York without loss of life — questioned the lack of experience of the Ethiopian first officer on the doomed flight, who reportedly had only 200 hours of flight time.

“A cockpit crew must be a team of experts, not a captain and an apprentice,” he said on social media.

But he also worried about the lag in getting a software fix installed.

“It has been obvious since the Lion Air crash that a redesign of the 737 MAX 8 has been urgently needed … and the announced proposed fixes do not go far enough.”

Boeing shares hit

Thousands of miles away, distraught families were demanding answers as they visited the deep black crater where the plane smashed into a field outside the capital, disintegrating on impact.

Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, sent the black boxes to France because it does not have the equipment to analyze the data. The information that they contain helps explain 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

An FAA emergency order has grounded 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft until further notice, effectively taking the aircraft out of the skies globally.

The move came after a growing number of airlines and countries decided not to fly the planes or ban them from their airspace until it is determined there are no safety issues.

US President Donald Trump told reporters the “safety of the American people and all peoples is our paramount concern”.

Trump and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed exchanged condolences Friday, Abiy said on Twitter, with the US president praising Ethiopian Airlines as a “strong institution” and offering technical support.

The 737 MAX series is Boeing’s fastest-selling model and it is still relatively new with fewer than 500 in service.

There are 74 registered in the United States and 387 in use worldwide with 59 carriers, according to the FAA.

Boeing’s shares have fallen 10 percent since Sunday’s crash — wiping out about $25 billion in value — after regaining some ground Friday after report that a fix was coming soon.

‘Panicky voice’

According to the flight data recorder, the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the MCAS repeatedly pushed the nose down after takeoff.

At least four American pilots later complained of the same problem with the aircraft, 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 disaster, US pilots disconnected the autopilot and corrected the plane’s trajectory in response.

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

According to The New York Times, air traffic controllers observed the Ethiopian Airlines plane “oscillating up and down by hundreds of feet” prior to the crash.

Speaking in a “panicky voice,” the doomed aircraft’s captain requested permission to return to the airport almost immediately after takeoff as the plane “accelerated to abnormal speed,” the newspaper reported Thursday, citing a person who had reviewed the air traffic communications.

“Break break, request back to home,” the Times quoted the pilot as saying just prior to the crash. “Request vector (direction) for landing.”

Boeing was criticized after the Lion Air crash for allegedly failing to adequately inform 737 pilots about the functioning of the stall prevention system.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the doomed flight’s captain was an experienced aviator with more than 8,000 flight hours.

AFP

We Have ‘Full Confidence’ In 737 MAX, Says Boeing Chief

We Have 'Full Confidence' In 737 MAX, Says Boeing Chief
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 6, 2018, Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president and CEO of the Boeing Company, participates in a Business Roundtable discussion in Washington, DC. MARK WILSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg said Wednesday that he supports the US decision to ground the company’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft after the latest deadly crash but continues to have “full confidence” in the safety of the plane.

He said he recommended to the Federal Aviation Administration that the global fleet should be suspended “out of an abundance of caution.”

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.”

READ ALSOU.S. To Ground All Boeing 737 Max Planes

Shares in US aviation giant Boeing fell precipitously on Wednesday, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower moments after President Donald Trump announced the grounding of top-selling aircraft.

It was an erratic day as Boeing shares recovered early in the session, but lost nearly three per cent after Trump’s announcement, before regaining some ground.

It was down 1.2 per cent just after 1900 GMT at $371.20.

The stock is now down more than 12 per cent since before Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight, and wiping billions off the company’s market value.

The benchmark Dow, which is heavily weighted to Boeing’s shares, fell about 100 points, but then bounced back to show a 0.3 percent gain.

The broader S&P 500 held on to earlier winnings, putting it up 0.7 per cent at 2,811.89 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was even higher at 7,651.91.

Trump’s announcement came hours after a similar decision by Canadian authorities and made the United States among the last nations in the world to take action to ban the planes.

Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 was the second in less than five months for the 737 MAX 8, bearing eerie similarities to October’s fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

Anonymous reports by US pilots also showed incidents in which flight systems suddenly and inexplicably caused the aircraft to pitch downward.

AFP

Recession: President Buhari To Sell Off More Jets

Presidential jet, RecessionPresident Muhammadu Buhari says he plans to sell off more jets from the  presidential fleet while some will be handed to over to the Nigerian Air Force.

The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu confirmed this after revealing President Buhari’s directive that two jets from the presidential fleet be sold off to cut down on overheads.

According to Mr. Shehu, the president has already approved that the sale of the two aircraft be advertised in national newspapers.

The sale of the Falcon 7X Executive jet and a Hawker 4000 aircraft from the President’s Air Fleet is to cut down on waste.

His directive to a government committee on this assignment is that he wants a smaller fleet for the safe airlift of the President, the Vice President and other government officials that go on special missions.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a non-governmental organization, had earlier called for a scale-down of the presidential fleet and reduction of other government expenditure.

The group says this is expedient at a time when the country is grappling with a recession.

The presidential fleet reportedly has about 10 aircraft.

It includes a Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800), a Gulfstream 550, a Gulfstream 500, two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two Agusta Westland AW 139 helicopters and two Agusta Westland AW 101 helicopters.

AIB Stepping Up Measures To Enhance Air Safety – Mukthar Usman

The Accident Investigation Bureau has said that it is stepping up measures in its bid to promote safety in the nation’s airspace.

One of these measures is creating a prevention roadmap by putting its new download laboratory to pro-active use by studying data from aircraft recorders.

This was made known by the commissioner of the bureau, Captain Mukhtar Usman, who added that several of its safety recommendations from past accident investigations have been implemented.

 

 

Boeing Dreamliner Fire Investigation Under Way

Investigators started work on Saturday to establish the cause of a fire on a Boeing Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow airport, a new setback for the high-tech model after it was grounded at the start of the year over battery problems.

The fire broke out on the plane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, on Friday afternoon, when it was parked at a remote stand with no passengers on board, eight hours after arriving from Addis Ababa. No one was injured.

External scorching could be seen close to the plane’s tail, in a different area from the bays containing batteries. There was no official indication of what could have caused the fire.

“The aircraft has been moved to a secure hangar at Heathrow and the investigation has begun,” said a spokesman for Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The AAIB will lead the investigation, working alongside the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing, he said.

Separately, engineers from Britain’s Thomson Airways were inspecting their own Boeing Dreamliner after it had to turn back during a flight on Friday from Manchester in England to Sanford in Florida because of an unspecified technical issue.

Boeing will be keen to reassure airlines, travelers and investors over the cause of the Heathrow fire as quickly as possible but under aviation rules it will be up to investigators to decide how much information to release and when.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s top five carriers, said it would continue to fly its Dreamliner fleet. It has ordered a total of 10 Dreamliners of which four have been delivered.

“The incident at Heathrow happened while the plane was on the ground and had been for more than eight hours and was not related to flight safety,” the carrier said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

“After a normal flight from Addis to London passengers disembarked in the morning and the aircraft was cleaned. It was towed to a remote parking area as usual and parked properly with all internal and external powers switched off,” said an official from the airline’s public relations department.

BATTERY PROBLEMS

The Heathrow and Manchester incidents are a new blow for Boeing after the entire global fleet of Dreamliners had to be grounded for three months, ending in April, after one high-tech battery caught fire and another overheated.

Boeing shares closed down 4.7 percent at $101.87 on Friday, knocking $3.8 billion off the company’s market capitalization.

Quoting Mark Mangooni, Ethiopian Airlines’ senior manager in Britain, the Financial Times reported that airline staff had discovered a problem with the aircraft’s air conditioning system during a routine inspection and had seen sparks but no flames.

The report did not make clear when this had happened. Reuters could not reach Mangooni for comment.

Heathrow briefly closed both its runways to deal with the fire, and a spokeswoman said on Saturday that the airport was back to normal operations, although it was still dealing with a backlog of delays and cancellations due to Friday’s incident.

The Dreamliner’s two batteries are in compartments located low down near the front and middle of the plane. Damage to the Ethiopian plane appeared to be on top of the fuselage, close to the tail, according to video from the scene.

(Graphic of key areas of the 787: link.reuters.com/zed69t)

Former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said the Heathrow incident was extraordinary, coming so soon after the fleet had returned to service, but warned against jumping to conclusions.

“It’s very early. No one knows where the fire started at this point,” Rosenker told Reuters, adding it could be something as simple as a coffee pot left on in a galley.

A spokesman for GS Yuasa, which makes the Dreamliner batteries, said he had not received any information about whether or not batteries had been involved.

INNOVATIONS

The 787 is Boeing’s biggest bet on new technology in nearly 20 years. It cost an estimated $32 billion to develop and Boeing plans to use hundreds of innovations such as its carbon-fiber composite skin and electrical system to enhance other jets.

The 787 Dreamliner fleet was grounded by regulators at the start of the year after batteries overheated on two of the jets within two weeks, including a fire in a parked Japan Airlines plane in Boston.

Boeing was forced to halt deliveries of the jet while it was grounded and airlines stopped ordering the plane at that time. Orders have since resumed and Boeing has logged 83 Dreamliner orders this year, bringing its current order book to 930 planes.

Boeing never disclosed the cost of the three-month grounding but said it absorbed most of the expense in the first quarter while still posting a 20 percent rise in profit. Its shares are up 35 percent this year, even after Friday’s loss.

The plane which caught fire in London was the first of the 787 fleet to resume flight after the battery-related grounding.

A person familiar with the aircraft’s configuration said the damaged area appears close to galleys and environmental control systems, but added that it was too early to link the fire to any specific equipment.

Several airlines said they were continuing to operate their 787s, including United Continental, Polish airline LOT, Japan Airlines and ANA, the world’s biggest operator of the Dreamliner.

Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliners are powered by General Electric GEnx engines.