AFTER TWO FATAL CRASHES OF BOEING 737 MAX, an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019; and an Indonesian Lion Air crash in October 2018, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, will have a tough time this week, at Paris Air Show, convincing and reassuring international airlines industry of the safety of its flagship Boeing 737 Max brands.
Meeting of aviation regulators in May was unable to state when the suspended 737 MAX jet would be allowed to fly again. Airlines having the MAX 737 in their fleet, and those anticipating to add it to their fleet are not comfortable with the trend.
Reports stated that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg had apologized over the two fatal incidents and vowed to come up with a fix for the 737 MAX’s automated anti-stall system, which was blamed for the Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesian Lion Air crashes in March and October, that claimed 346 lives.
On Twitter, at the weekend, Muilenburg posted: “An air show is a good opportunity to connect with customers, suppliers and fellow aerospace manufacturers to strengthen our partnerships and drive industry safety”.
Later on, Sunday, Muilenburg told journalist: “We have work to do to win and regain the trust of the public. We come to this salon focused on safety. We come with a sense of humility and learning, still confident in our market — but it’s a humble confidence.” An acknowledgement that more work needed to be done on its 373 MAX brands.
About 2,500 firms are expected at Bourget Airport north of Paris this week for the Paris Air Show. Expected, also, are about 290 aviation official delegations, who may wish to have words with Muilenburg on the future of its Boeing 373 MAX.
Since the two fatal crashes, Boeing has faced huge challenges. Reports that US safety regulators may have allowed Boeing engineers to “self-certify” some of the plane’s equipment have further piqued confidence in the company.
Pascal Fabre, working at the consulting firm Alix Partners, was quoted to have said: “It’s had a very clear impact on Boeing’s brand and reputation”. Pilots and national aviation regulators are reported to be troubled about what they see as lack of sufficient oversight at the American aviation giant.
On the economic side, Airbus is taking advantage of the crisis to win over new customers for its A320 family of single-aisle jets. Boeing may face requests for compensation by airlines using alternative planes, or had to out rightly cancel flights, as a result grounding their 737 brands.
Late April, Boeing estimated that the crisis would cost $1 billion; and predicted that the bill will keep rising for as long as the planes remain grounded. It may not be out of place, if families of victims of the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes decide to sue Boeing for damages, if found to be negligent of the crashes.
Other service provider to Boeing are also counting loses. General Electric’s CFM unit that supplies 737’s engines with its French partner, Safran, said the groundings could cost $200 million to $300 million in the second quarter alone.
International Air Transport Association, IATA, Director-General, Alexandre de Juniac said certification of plans might not resume before August, 2019. American Airlines were, reported last week, to have cancelled all 737 MAX flights up till September 3, because of not taking chances.
For now, EU, Canada and Brazil said they will carry out their independent inspection of any fix for the 737 MAX. Before now, global regulators relied on system of mutual reciprocity for certifying planes.
Reports said Boeing has 140 737 MAX parked on its tarmac waiting for delivery. It has reduced monthly production to 42, from 52 planes. At New York investors forum, last month, Boeing boss, Muilenburg, referring to US Federal Aviation Administration, said: “Our hope is that we’ll have a broad international alignment with the FAA” on when to resume the flights.