FAA prepared to act alone to lift MAX grounding

Subscription Required

Introduction

May 9, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing hopes that the Federal Aviation Administration will lift its grounding order for the 737 MAX as early as next month. It is prepared to act alone, LNA has confirmed, rather than waiting for a consensus from global regulations.

Some airlines and aerospace financial analysts, as well as others like LNA, consultants and observers, wonder if global regulators will agree with the FAA or move more slowly.

The FAA already initially concluded simulator training won’t be necessary for pilots to understand the now-infamous MCAS system and its upgrades. After one round of comments for the proposal, which is common in the FAA process, the agency is accepting a second round of comments.

Transport Canada, however, already indicated it wants simulator training before lifting the grounding order affecting nearly four dozen MAXes at Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and Westjet.

Other agencies haven’t publicly weighed in.

There were some reports the FAA may wait for all regulators to agree before lifting the grounding order.

But LNA confirmed the FAA will act on its own review, while fully briefing global regulators, who will make their own decisions.

Summary
  • “Regulatory power grab” in focus, writes aerospace analyst.
  • Some hope for early lifting of grounding order, others don’t see return to service until September.
  • Is the Joint Authorities Technical Review panel the precursor to a new global regulator for certification?

Read more

Pontifications: Rebuilding the MAX and Boeing brands

By Scott Hamilton

May 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing has a big job ahead of it to restore faith in the 737 MAX with flight crews and the flying public.

Recertification is still weeks or perhaps months away. The return to service may be anywhere from July to August or even longer, depending on how global regulators proceed with review and approval of the revised MCAS software and pilot training.

Pilots at airlines seem split whether a “simple” computer training protocol is sufficient or whether a flight simulator training is required.

Let’s set all this aside on the safe assumption this will work itself out, whether sooner or later.

So, the question then becomes: how does Boeing repair the MAX brand—and its own.

Read more

Ascend takes a close look at MAX values, future

April 30, 2019: Aviation consultancy Ascend took a close look at the Boeing 737 MAX in a 30 minute Youtube video.

The consultancy begins and ends the video talking about other airplanes, but the middle focuses on the MAX, lease rates, values and considerations about the grounding.

The video is below.

Read more

Pontifications: “We own it, but…”

By Scott Hamilton

April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing got roundly thumped for blaming the pilots in the Lion Air flight 610 crash involving the 737 MAX last October.

It took months before Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a video in which, among other things, he said, “We own it.” He was referring to safety of the MAX.

This was widely interpreted as Boeing stepping up and taking responsibility for at least some of the causes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.

Last Wednesday, he took it all back.

On the first quarter earnings call, Muilenburg denied there was any “technical slip or gap” in designing the now famous MCAS system. He said “actions not taken” contributed to the crash, a thinly veiled reference once again to pilot error. (More on this below.)

Read more

Initial analyst reaction to Boeing 1Q earnings

April 24, 2019: Initial analyst reaction to Boeing’s 1Q2019 earnings, which were impacted by the grounding of the 737 MAX two weeks before the engine of the quarter, was positive.

Pre-market trading was initially up more than $6; at this writing an hour later, this eased, coming off slight to being up just under $6.

Here is the initial reaction from analysts:

Read more

Boeing 1Q earnings down on MAX grounding; full impact to come

April 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing took a $1bn revenue hit in the first quarter ended March 31, following the grounding of the 737 MAX on March 13.

Earnings from operations reported today were off $525m; net earnings were down $328m.

The press release is here.

The stock market took the news in stride; pre-market trading saw Boeing stock rise more than $6 (1.66%) an hour before opening.

The MAX was grounding March 13, affecting only two weeks of the first quarter. The full impact is to come. As a result, Boeing suspended guidance for the year and will reissue it at a later date.

Read more

Latest engine problem means NMA EIS slides

Subscription Required

Introduction

April 22, 2019, © Leeham News: If there remains any doubt that Boeing’s prospective New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) won’t be ready for entry into service (EIS) by 2025, it should be dispelled by now.

The grounding of the 737 MAX March 13, which is likely to continue well into the summer, will delay any launch of the program—should Boeing proceed.

The Board of Directors is unlikely to approve Authority to Offer (ATO) the NMA for sale as long as the cash flow for the MAX is outgoing and not in-coming.

Although this has its own impact on the NMA timing, it’s not the critical factor.

Last week, it was revealed that the CFM LEAP engine on the MAX (and the Airbus A321neo) has a problem called coking, which led to the contained engine failure of a Southwest Airlines MAX being ferried from Orlando (FL) to Victorville (CA) for the grounding of the Boeing airplane (see here and here). It’s the latest in a long line of engine maker problems with their current generation of powerplants.

This issue is unrelated to the MAX MCAS grounding. It also affects some engines on the A320neo family.

Summary
  • CFM is considered the favorite to power the NMA.
  • All four engine makers remain under stress and recover modes.
  • Rolls-Royce dropped out of NMA competition in December.
  • LNA reported in March 2018 the engines needed to be the focus for the NMA launch. See here and here.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: MCAS fix on the way

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 19, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg yesterday flew with the final version of the updated MCAS software on a 737 MAX. It will now enter certification flights, having completed 120 Boeing test flights.

Here my perspective on MCAS and the overall Boeing 737 safety record.

Read more

Union asks Congress to intervene in Boeing inspection issue

Subscription Required

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.

Summary
  • Borrowing from the auto business
  • Union says bad decisions put deliveries at risk
  • Boeing says new system brings down defects
Read more

Training is a factor in the MAX crashes

 

By Scott Hamilton

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.

Read more