The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing today completed three days’ worth of certification flight tests on the Boeing 737 MAX, but it’ll take weeks longer for the FAA to review the fixes that Boeing made and decide whether to end the yearlong grounding of the planes.
Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration took a major step toward returning the troubled 737 MAX to full operation today with the first of a series of flights aimed at recertifying the jet in the wake of two catastrophic crashes.
Boeing says it has resumed 737 MAX production at its factory in Renton, Wash., with more than a dozen initiatives implemented to enhance product quality and workplace safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who has been touted as a future presidential candidate, says she’s resigning from Boeing’s board of directors to protest the company’s request for $60 billion in federal aid.
Boeing has been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation industry, as well as the continued grounding of the 737 MAX fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes. This week the company said it supports a minimum of $60 billion in access to private and public liquidity for the aerospace manufacturing industry.
“I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position,” she wrote. “I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government.”
Boeing doubled its estimate for the financial effect of the 737 MAX crisis today and recorded a net annual loss for the first time since 1997 — but the company’s stock price rose nevertheless, reflecting market sentiment that the worst may be over.
An additional $9.2 billion was set aside to cover projected costs associated with the aftermath of two catastrophic crashes involving a 737 MAX 8 jet in Indonesia in 2018 and the same model in Ethiopia in 2019. That brought the total projected cost to $18.4 billion.
Months after two accidents forced the worldwide grounding of 737 MAX passenger jets, Boeing is now recommending that pilots go through new rounds of MAX simulator training before the planes return to service.
Nine months after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157 people, the 737 MAX is still grounded. Boeing’s CEO and the head of its commercial airplanes unit have been replaced, and the prospects for the MAX’s return to flight are uncertain.
It’s not a good-news story. But it’s the biggest aerospace story of 2019 — especially for the Puget Sound region, where the 737 MAX and most of Boeing’s bigger airplanes are made.