Returning MAX safely to service is Boeing’s “top priority”

June 17, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing executives focused on its top priority, returning the grounded 737 MAX, safely to service, in its lead off briefing today at the Paris Air Show.

Greg Smith, EVP of The Boeing Co., appeared instead of CEO Dennis Muilenburg, taking the lead in recapping much of what has been known for weeks: Boeing’s regret for the 346 fatalities in the Lion Air and Ethiopian accidents, the MCAS software upgrade and working with airlines and regulators to determine the path back to recertifying the MCAS and the best curriculum for pilot training.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister, Defense unit CEO Leanne Caret and Global Services unit CEO Stan Deal followed Smith in a tightly scripted set of presentations and answers to questions.

The four immediately left the stage after the Q&A instead of loitering for the usual press gaggles.

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Pontifications: The elephant in the room

By Scott Hamilton

June 17, 2019, © Leeham News: The Paris Air Show opens today and the elephant in the room is the Boeing 737 MAX.

There is no telling when the airplane will get FAA approval to return to service. According to some news reports, Boeing will hasn’t turned over the MCAS revisions to the FAA for review, testing and approval.

The acting administrator of the FAA said he expects the MAX to be back in the air by the end of the year. Some leapt to the conclusion this means December—and it may, but let’s remember September, October and November are before the “end of the year,” too.

There’s no telling how other global regulators will act, and when, to conduct their own review and approvals. Airlines would like a global action. It’s tough to tell customers one country sees the airplane as safe but others don’t.


  • Leeham News will be at the Paris Air Show this week, with coverage by Scott Hamilton, Bjorn Fehrm and Judson Rollins. All coverage will be open to all readers.

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Stabilizing 737 production is Boeing’s priority, CFO says

By Dan Catchpole

June 5, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing is focused on smoothing out 737 production at 42 aircraft a month for now. Any decision to returning production to 52/month is well down the road, Boeing CFO Greg Smith said Wednesday at the UBS Global Industrials and Transportation Conference in New York.

“It’s going to be all about stability,” Smith said. “And stability is not just about on schedule but ensuring that we’ve got predictability and accuracy that’s more finite than what it’s been in the past.”

The company had planned to step up production from 52/month to 57/month in June or July. Boeing slowed down production of the workhorse single-aisle in April after a second 737 MAX crashed shortly after takeoff. At the time, it cited the accidents as the reason for slowing 737 production. However, the aerospace giant already had been struggling with production disruptions prior to the crashes. The biggest headache came from slow deliveries from engine-maker CFM, as LNA reported in April.

Industry insiders at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in April said Boeing already planned to hit 57/month in September. However, at Wednesday’s investor conference, Smith’s sidestepped any question about when 737 production could reach that pace.

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Boeing CEO says steady progress being made on getting 737 MAX back into the air

 By Dan Catchpole

May 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Wednesday steady progress is being made on getting the 737 MAX back in the air following two devastating crashes within a few months of each other. He stopped short of giving a specific time frame, though.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg

However, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association said the same day that the trade group does not expect the MAX to be back in service before mid-August.

Speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference, Muilenburg struck an upbeat tone overall and called the crashes a “defining moment” for Boeing. However, he did not indicate that Boeing intends any major changes as a result, and he expressed confidence in the company’s design and certification processes. Though, he did not shut the door to making changes as a result of lessons learned in the wake of the crash.

Muilenburg insisted that the MAX challenges will not affect entry into service for either the 777X in 2021 or the New Midsize Airplane (NMA) in 2025. He also discussed changes to the 737 supply chain, resumption of deliveries and future production rates for the popular single-aisle airplane.

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Pontifications: Compensation claims against Boeing beginning to ramp up

By Scott Hamilton

May 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines are increasingly going public with desires to be compensated by Boeing for the grounding of the 737 MAX.

Norwegian Air Shuttle and Spice Jet said shortly after the MAX grounding March 13 they were going to seek compensation from Boeing.

Air China has asked for compensation, reports Reuters. Other airlines with grounded MAXes are also beginning to notify Boeing about compensation claims.


  • Today’s paywall will be delayed to take advantage of the Embraer pre-Paris Air Show briefings that begins today. I’ll be reporting from Brazil.

Compensation for delivery delays is also a risk to Boeing. This already has reached $1bn, one aviation lawyer estimates, and stands to climb by billions more, depending on how long new deliveries are delayed.

But Boeing is preparing to take a preemptive defensive move against these latter claims.

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NMA is a briar patch, top Airbus salesman says

#AirbusID

May 21, 2019, © Leeham News, Toulouse: The chief commercial officer for Airbus half hopes Boeing will step into a briar patch and launch its long-discussed New Midmarket Airplane, but the real message is clear: leave well enough alone.

Left unsaid it Airbus doesn’t want to have to launch a new airplane of its own.

Christian Scherer, the chief commercial officer for Airbus, said he wouldn’t speak for Boeing when asked if Boeing “has” to launch the NMA because of the declining market share of the 737 MAX vs the A321neo and inferior range and field performance of the -9/10 MAXes. He questioned Boeing’s own position about the NMA.

He made these remarks on the sidelines of the annual Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefings.

“I’m not sure they have a unified position on it. What I want to say is that we are in a very competitive duopoly, which is great for our customers,” he said. “There’s competition everywhere. You don’t have to dominate one segment or the other segment. There’s quite healthy business in it for Boeing on the 737. There’s quite healthy business in it on bigger airplanes. I’m not sure they have to do anything. Do they want to do something? Yeah, maybe.”

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This is not simple

By John Cox

John Cox

May 20, 2019, © Leeham News: The latest version of the Boeing 737 is the MAX. It has new engines, new flight deck screens and the latest in-flight entertainment systems for passengers. It is quite a change from the 737-100 that first entered service 51 years earlier in 1968.

After flying operationally for 15 months (May 2017 to October 2018), there was a loss of a 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia. Five months later, another MAX 8 crashed. Something was wrong. How could such a proven workhorse have two accidents in such a short time in very similar circumstances?

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Pontifications: Mandate sim time for MAX return to the skies

By Scott HamiltonMay 20, 2019, © Leeham News: “Safety is our top priority.”

So says Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co.

As stories drip, drip, drip out in The Seattle Times, New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media about Boeing’s development process of the 737 MAX, one can’t help but wonder otherwise.

Pilots weren’t told of MCAS. Switch functions were changed. Warning lights were inoperative, but the pilot manuals indicated otherwise. Boeing discovered one problem but didn’t tell the FAA for a year. A single point of failure. The absence of information about the MCAS in the pilot manual. A second software glitch is found in the flight control system. Boeing said it didn’t want to “inundate” pilots with information. Blaming the pilots for the accidents.



But nothing is Boeing’s fault. There was no failure, no gap, no technical problem. Or so says Muilenburg.

Yet within one week of the Lion Air accident, in which Boeing pointed the finger at the pilots, Boeing was diving into the MCAS design.

It goes on and on.

If “safety is our top priority,” it’s time for Boeing to man up and do the right thing, regardless of the legal liabilities.

It’s time to back simulator training on MCAS before pilots can fly the MAX. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Why I wouldn’t hesitate to fly on the MAX after the fix

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 18, 2019, ©. Leeham News: We are now two months into the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX because of MCAS. Boeing announced yesterday it has finished the work on the fix and it’s now ready for FAA certification flights. Once FAA has certified the fix, the 737 MAX will return to the sky. At least this is how it used to be.

A lot of hesitation and distrust has come into the system since the March 13th grounding. Here’s why I wouldn’t hesitate to fly on the MAX after the fix.

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How Boeing named, promoted the MAX in early days

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Introduction

May 16, 2019, © Leeham News: As a Congressional investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX development ramps up, LNA dipped into its archives to review what the company was telling the public.

The MAX was hastily launched in July 2011, when American Airlines informed Boeing it was about to place a record-setting order for nearly 500 airplanes. Airbus was lined up to snare it all with the A320ceo and neo families unless Boeing could make a credible offer.

Within 48 hours, Jim McNerney, then-CEO of Boeing, made the decision to launch the re-engined design of the 737. This later was branded the MAX.

It was a plane Boeing designed but didn’t want to build.

Once launched, Boeing had to play catch up to Airbus, which had a seven month lead with its neo. The public messaging was long on bashing the A320. There were few technical details presented in public, but the basis for what’s become in focus today after two fatal crashes was there.

Summary
  • Boeing promoted commonality between NG and MAX.
  • Making a virtue of basic design.
  • Integrating the larger engines.
  • Promoting the same simulators.

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