By Bryan Corliss
April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: As Boeing faces federal investigations, shareholder lawsuits, Congressional hearings – and possibly subpoenas – linked to the 737 MAX crashes, another issue flying low on the radar could further complicate the company’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and the elected officials who oversee it.
The issue revolves around the company’s plan to end quality control inspections for several thousand tasks performed by Boeing mechanics in the factory.
That plan – first reported by The Seattle Times in January – involves the use of more “smart tools” to perform work more precisely so that inspections will no longer be required for thousands of tasks. Instead of doing quality checks 100% of the time, as Boeing inspectors have been doing for generations, inspectors will sample 1-in-100 tasks, or maybe less, Boeing executives told the newspaper.
Now, the union for inspectors whose work is going away is asking its influential supporters in Congress to intervene with the FAA. It wants a chance to show the agency data it says proves that the new process will lead to more downstream rework on the assembly line, more injured workers and more production delays.
April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: This column will no doubt light up the blog-o-sphere.
There’s been a major debate going on since the crash of Lion Air JT610, the Boeing 737-8 MAX that immediately became a huge controversy.
Boeing immediately blamed the pilots. So did some pilots of some US airlines, who said if the Lion Air crew had just flown the airplane, it wouldn’t have crashed. It was a training issue, some said.
Having got tremendous blow back over Lion Air, Boeing publicly held its tongue when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed five months later.
Still, Boeing officials quietly still said there was nothing wrong with the airplane.
Some US and Canadian pilots maintained, publicly and privately, that a lack of training and pilot skills in the Third World was responsible.
They’re not entirely wrong.
April 10, 2019, © Leeham News: China will be the last country to review and approve fixes to the Boeing 737 MAX, according to the talk here on the sidelines of the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Atlanta.
Nobody knows, of course, when regulators will lift the MAX grounding orders. But none is looking for fast action.
And China, the first to ground the airplane, will be the last to lift the grounding, sideline talk here indicates.
April 9, 2019 (c) Leeham News: Boeing stock price has been remarkably resilient since the Lion Air crash.
The 737-8 MAX was five months old and the type had been in service only since May 2017.
It took a big hit on Oct. 29, when Lion Air JT610 crashed, closing at $357 per share.
By early January, the stock price not only recovered its losses, it climbed back to $440 by Feb. 25, a record high.
April 6, 2019 © Leeham News: Boeing’s decision Friday to reduce the production rate on the 737 MAX was a surprise in timing and scope.
This came so quickly and was steep, cutting production from 52 MAXes per month to 42. It comes on the heals that a second software problem was found, delaying submission of the MCAS software upgrade to the FAA for review and approval.
The production rate cut is effective in mid-April. This is lightning speed in this industry, where rate breaks, as changes are called, typically have 12-18 month lead times.
Boeing hasn’t announced what the second software problem is. LNA is told it is the interface between the MCAS upgrade and the Flight Control System, but specifics are lacking.
LNA interprets these combined events as indicative the MAX will be ground well past the Paris Air Show in June.
The impact to Boeing is going to be huge: customer compensation, deferred revenue, lost revenue, potentially canceled orders and potential lost orders in sales campaigns. The hit to the Boeing brand and impacts of multiple investigations won’t become clear for months to come.