Southwest Airlines

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 24, 2019

(Reuters) – American Airlines said Sunday it will extend flight cancellation through April 24 because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal crashes since October and cut some additional flights.

American, the largest U.S. carrier, said it is cancelling about 90 flights a day. American is the second-largest U.S. operator of the MAX in the United States with 24 jets, behind Southwest Airlines with 34.

American said earlier this month it was flying about 85 flights a day out of its 6,700 daily departures on 737 MAX planes when the grounded was announced.

The airline said it was making the announcement “to provide more certainty to our customers and team members and better protect our customers on other flights to their final destination.”

Boeing Co is expected as early as Monday to formally disclose a planned upgrade to its anti-stall system to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that has been in the works since October’s Lion Air crash but still needs approval from U.S. regulators.

The FAA has said it plans to mandate the upgrade by April, but it is still not clear if the upgrade will address any issues after the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.

American, Southwest and United Airlines were all meeting with Boeing this weekend to review the software upgrade, Reuters reported Saturday.

The FAA said earlier the “design changes” would result in flight control system enhancements that will provide “reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

Reuters reported Thursday the upgrade will include a previously optional warning light. Many airlines, including American, already had the optional light.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight/File Photo

March 23, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets were heading to Boeing Co’s factory in Renton, Washington, to review a software upgrade on Saturday, even as Southwest Airlines Co began parking its 34 MAXs near the California desert.

The factory visits indicate Boeing may be nearing completion of a planned software patch for its newest 737 following a fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October, but the timing for a resumption of passenger flights on the jets remains uncertain.

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve the software fix and new training, are under U.S. and global scrutiny since the MAX suffered a second deadly crash involving Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa on March 10, which led to a worldwide grounding of the fleet.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, said it has been in talks with Boeing, the FAA and airlines to get the airplanes flying again as soon as possible, albeit with an acceptable level of safety.

“Right now we’re in wait and see mode to see what Boeing comes up with,” Captain Jason Goldberg, a spokesman for APA, said on Saturday. “We’re hopeful, but at the same time the process can’t be rushed.”

APA is among a delegation of airline safety experts and pilots set to test Boeing’s software upgrade, meant to change how much authority is given to a new anti-stall system developed for the 737 MAX, in Renton.

The system, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, is suspected of playing a role in both disasters, which together killed 346 people.

Both crashes are still under investigation.

Southwest, the largest operator of the MAX in the world, and United Airlines said they would also review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updates on Saturday. United has 14 MAXs while American has 24.

Meanwhile, Southwest said it was starting to move on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, while the global grounding remains in effect.

“The planes being in one place will be more efficient for performing the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft, as well as any future software enhancements that need to take place,” spokeswoman Brandy King said.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft at Midway International Airport in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit next to the maintenance area after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski/File Photo

March 23, 2019

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co is sending experts from its technical pilot and training teams to review documentation and training associated with Boeing Co’s updated speed trim system on its 737 MAX aircraft, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday.

Southwest, the largest operator of 737 MAX in the world, is also preparing to park its 34 MAX jets at a facility in Victorville, California, while a global grounding remains in place following two fatal crashes of the new Boeing jets in five months.

The crashes involving an Indonesian Lion Air plane on Oct. 29 and an Ethiopian Airlines plane on March 10 killed 346 people.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski)

Source: OANN

An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton
An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

March 22, 2019

By Cindy Silviana and Tracy Rucinski

JAKARTA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co will mandate on MAX jets a previously optional cockpit warning light, which might have warned of problems that possibly played a role in the recent crashes of Ethiopian and Indonesian planes, two officials briefed on the matter said.

The safety feature is expected to be offered as part of a software update to the MAX fleet that was grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said the officials who asked not to be identified.

The crash set off one of the widest inquiries in aviation history and cast a shadow over the Boeing MAX model intended to be a standard for decades.

Boeing did not immediately comment on the plan to make the safety feature standard, but separately said it was moving quickly to make software changes and expects the upgrade to be approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the coming weeks.

But Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda said on Friday that customers had lost trust in the planes and it has sent a letter to Boeing asking to cancel an order for 49 MAX 8s – the first airline to publicly confirm plans to cancel an order for the troubled aircraft.

The current order was valued at $6 billion at list prices and Garuda, which currently has one MAX in its fleet, said it could switch to other Boeing models.

While a direct link between the crashes has not been proven, initial investigations show similarities and attention has focused on an automated flight-control system, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), that came into service two years ago with the MAX.

The software is designed to prevent a loss of lift that can cause an aerodynamic stall, sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way. In the Lion Air crash, it may have been erroneously activated by a faulty sensor, investigators believe.

Chicago-based Boeing will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, the officials told Reuters. The world’s largest plane maker previously offered the alert, but it was not required by aviation regulators.

Boeing has said it plans to make software changes to the aircraft, but it is unclear how long it will take Boeing to refit existing MAX planes with new software or hardware.

Experts said it could take weeks or months to be done, and for regulators to review and approve the changes. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems.

The FAA has said installation of the new software and related training was a priority.

SOFTWARE FIX

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of commercial marketing, said the software changes include changes in the control laws of the airplane, an update of the displays, the flight manual, as well as the training.

Boeing has tested the improvements in a simulator and in the air, he said on Thursday. He defended Boeing’s design and production processes, adding that it was too early to speculate on what the investigations will show.

The company has said there was a documented procedure to handle the automated system at the heart of the problem.

The pilots’ union of Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of the MAX, said it is working with the company, Boeing, other pilot unions and the FAA to test and validate the new software.

“We still would like to have more detail on the development, control parameters and testing done on the algorithm that will trigger an MCAS event,” the union said in a statement.

The American Airlines’ pilots union told Reuters it expects to test the software fix on simulators this weekend in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

MAX simulator training is currently not required, partly because not many simulators exist.

Southwest and American expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday the simulators are not designed to replicate the MCAS problems. The airline is among the few that do have a simulator but the captain of the doomed flight had no chance to practise on it before the crash, a pilot colleague said.

MOUNTING PRESSURE

The two crashes killed almost 350 people.

Since the Ethiopian crash, Boeing shares have fallen 12 percent and $28 billion has been wiped off its market value.

Pressure has mounted on the company from U.S. legislators, who are also expected to question the FAA. The company also faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Several lawsuits already filed on behalf of victims of the Lion Air crash referring to the Ethiopian accident. Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Consumer advocate and former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader lost a grand-niece in the Ethiopian crash and urged whistleblowers to help challenge the aviation industry and get to the bottom of what happened.

“They lulled us into complacency,” he said in an interview in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

(For a graphic on ‘Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in question’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(For a graphic on ‘Grounded 737 MAX fleet’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6jQbI)

(For a graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh, Georgina Prodhan and Ben Klayman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

March 22, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc pilots expect to test Boeing Co’s 737 MAX software fix on the U.S. manufacturer’s simulators this weekend, officials from the pilots’ union told Reuters on Thursday, a key step in restoring pilots’ confidence in the aircraft after two fatal crashes.

Boeing has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Similarities between the flight path in the Lion Air incident and a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 have raised fresh questions about the system, and pilots want assurances that the update is solid. The two crashes killed everyone aboard both planes, a total of 346 people.

American is the second largest U.S. operator of the MAX, behind Southwest Airlines. United Airlines is the third U.S. carrier to operate the MAX.

“This airplane can be a safe airplane, and there have been great strides on getting a fix in the works, but I’ll have a better feel after we can test it out,” said Mike Michaelis, safety committee chairman of the Allied Pilots Association, or APA, which represent American Airline pilots.

Michaelis said one APA pilot and one pilot from American’s management team would test the software fix in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

Boeing declined to comment.

The MAX jets were grounded worldwide in the wake of the Ethiopian crash. For the aircraft to fly in the United States again, the Federal Aviation Administration must approve the planned software fix and new training, which pilots must complete.

Boeing also plans to offer as standard a safety feature that might have warned earlier of problems that possibly played a role in the two crashes.

As for training, Boeing has proposed new computer-based training on the software update, followed by a mandatory test.

Jon Weaks, head of Southwest Airline’s pilots’ union, told members on Wednesday that the FAA-mandated training should be enhanced.

MAX simulator training is not required, partly because not many simulators exist.

Southwest and American, which operate 34 and 24 MAX jets, respectively, have said they expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Canada’s CAE Inc, the main simulator producer, said it has delivered nine of the simulators, which are now in high demand by airlines but take about a year to build. CAE expects to deliver 20 more in 2019.

“For now we want to get our safety experts in these unicorn simulators to show us what the software fix does,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot. “When it comes to safely issues, it has to be a full-course meal, nothing a la carte.”

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski and Jamie Freed

CHICAGO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Pressure mounted on Boeing Co in Washington as U.S. lawmakers called for executives to testify about two crashed 737 MAX jets, even as the world’s biggest planemaker worked to return the grounded fleet to the skies.

A Senate panel plans to schedule a hearing with Boeing at an unspecified date, officials said, the first time a U.S. congressional committee has called the company’s executives to appear for questioning over the crashes.

The same panel, the Senate Commerce subcommittee on aviation and space, will also question FAA officials on March 27, likely about why the regulator agreed to certify the MAX planes in March 2017 without requiring extensive additional training.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 that killed all 157 on board has set off one of the widest investigations in aviation history. Initial reports from investigators say there are clear similarities between the crash and the Lion Air accident that killed all 189 crew and passengers in November.

While no direct link has yet been established, the MCAS flight control software and related pilot training are at the center of the investigation, and U.S. lawmakers are questioning the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of MAX’s safety.

Boeing has promised a swift update to the MCAS, and the FAA said the installation of new software and related training was a priority.

However, extra computer-based training will be required after the software update, the pilot union of MAX’s biggest customer, Southwest Airlines Co, said on Wednesday, becoming the first major airline union to comment.

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association said it had previewed the proposed Boeing training, including a required test, which would be mandatory for Southwest pilots before flying the 737 MAX again.

A Boeing spokeswoman said training on the software update would be provided by the manufacturer, but declined to disclose further details.

Regulators in Europe and Canada have said, however, they will seek their own guarantees of the MAX’s safety.

MOUNTING SCRUTINY

The Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the Boeing model intended to be a standard for decades to come.

Investigators examining the Lion Air crash are weighing how the MCAS system ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

MCAS is meant to prevent a loss of lift which can cause an aerodynamic stall and send the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.

The pilots of the doomed Lion Air flight scrambled through a handbook to understand why the jet was lurching downwards in the final minutes before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

Indonesian investigators have said the cockpit voice recorder information was leaked to the media and they plan to hold a news conference at 0830 GMT on Thursday.

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the problem.

The company was sued on Wednesday in federal court in Chicago by the estate of one of the Lion Air crash victims in which the plaintiffs referred to the Ethiopian crash to support a wrongful death claim against the company.

A Boeing spokesman said the company does not respond to, or comment on, questions concerning legal matters.

The Seattle Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was joining the investigation into the MAX’s certification. An FBI spokeswoman in Seattle would neither confirm nor deny that it was a part of any investigation.

Criminal prosecutors at the U.S. Justice Department, who are also investigating the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, have issued multiple subpoenas to Boeing, CNN reported, citing sources briefed on the matter.

Bloomberg said U.S. officials started investigating the FAA’s approval of the MAX software linked to the Lion Air plane crash last year within weeks after the accident, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon Inspector General said it would investigate a complaint that Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, violated ethical rules by allegedly promoting Boeing while in office.

Facing high-profile scrutiny, Boeing reshuffled executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on its response.

FINAL MOMENTS

Before the Lion Air flight crashed, sources told Reuters the Indian-born captain, aged 31, was quiet, while the Indonesian officer, 41, said “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest”.

A different crew on the same plane the previous evening had the same situation but resolved it after running through three checklists, though they did not pass on the information to the doomed Indonesian crew, a preliminary report in November said.

As with the Indonesia flight, the Ethiopian crew radioed about control problems shortly after take-off and sought to turn back. Ethiopia’s civil aviation head Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw said he expected a report on the investigation within 30 days.

For now, more than 350 MAX aircraft are grounded, and deliveries of nearly 5,000, worth more than $500 billion, are on hold. Boeing’s shares have fallen 11 percent since the Ethiopian Airlines crash, wiping $26 billion from its market value.

(For a graphic on ‘Boeing 737 Max deliveries in question’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(For a graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Jamie Freed in Singapore; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, David Shepardson in Washington, Tim Hepher in Paris, Jonathan Stempel in New York, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft at Midway International Airport in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit next to the maintenance area after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski

March 20, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski and Allison Lampert

CHICAGO/MONTREAL (Reuters) – U.S. and Canadian airlines that fly the roughly 175-seat aircraft face a logistical challenge: which flights to cancel and which to cover with other planes following the global grounding of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jets.

Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, the two largest MAX operators in the United States, said they have bolstered their reservation and operations teams to figure out how to spread flight cancellations across their networks, not just on MAX flights.

American Airlines, for example, had most of its 24 MAX jets flying in and out of Miami, where load factors have been full during the Spring Break season.

“We can’t just cancel all of those flights, so the goal is to spread out the cancellations across our entire system to impact the least amount of customers,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.

This means that an American Airlines flight from Miami to the Caribbean initially scheduled on a 737 MAX may now fly on a 737-800 with a similar seat configuration, while that 737-800 flight is canceled.

“It’s a challenge to explain to customers who weren’t previously booked on a MAX why their flight is canceled,” Feinstein said.

The 737 MAX jets were grounded last week following two fatal crashes in the past five months, the causes of which are under investigation.

Southwest, the largest MAX operator in the world with 34 jets representing about 5 percent of its total fleet, is cancelling about 150 flights per day due to the grounding, but not all on MAX routes.

Southwest shares were down 2.3 percent on Wednesday and American shares fell 2.1 percent.

Steve West, Senior Director of Southwest’s Operations Control, said the company is trying to cancel flights five days in advance, while looking at issues such as weather that could free up jets, like last week’s snowstorm in Colorado.

Southwest and American were already grappling with a larger than normal number of out-of-service aircraft, further straining their fleets.

So far United Airlines, with 14 MAX aircraft, has not canceled any flights due to the grounding, but has had to put smaller aircraft on some routes and fly the larger 777 to places like Hawaii.

It is unclear how long the grounding will last. Deliveries are also on hold, meaning an additional hit to airlines due to receive more of the jets this year.

Boeing has over 5,000 orders for the MAX, which sold fast thanks to its higher fuel-efficiency and longer range. Now airlines face a dent to 2019 profits.

Calgary-based WestJet said it took steps prior to the MAX grounding to start protecting trans-border flights to sunny destinations that were previously scheduled to fly with the carrier’s 13 MAX planes.

Meanwhile, Air Canada said on Tuesday it would remove its 24 737 MAX aircraft from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019.

“It is easier to put the aircraft back in the schedule than to pull it out,” said a source familiar with the carrier’s thinking, who is not allowed to publicly discuss its strategy.

(GRAPHIC-Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in question link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC).

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis at Midway International Airport in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski

March 15, 2019

By Conor Humphries, Jamie Freed and Allison Lampert

DUBLIN/SINGAPORE/MONTREAL (Reuters) – The grounding of Boeing’s global 737 MAX fleet has brought headaches for airlines that need to find alternative aircraft to fly in their place, but it has given some carriers a welcome opportunity to re-evaluate orders for the plane.

Countries and airlines around the world banned the 737 MAX this week after a deadly Ethiopian Airlines plane crash killed all 157 people on board. The disaster followed a fatal crash of the same model operated by Lion Air in Indonesia in October.

For airlines that over-ordered the latest version of Boeing’s 737 workhorse, the grounding could be a good excuse to delay or cancel purchases, saving cash on the balance sheet, analysts said.

“These unfortunate developments could give airlines that have potentially over-ordered an opportunity to review their requirements and fleet strategy,” CAPA Centre for Aviation Chief Analyst Brendan Sobie said.

Many airlines have had to quickly find other aircraft to substitute for the grounded 737 MAX, which has also complicated plans by airlines to use the fuel-efficient, longer-range jet to serve new destinations.

Southwest Airlines Co, the world’s largest operator of the MAX, was planning to fly the jet on its new California-Hawaii route later this year, while Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes inaugurated flights from Brazil to Orlando and Miami in November after receiving its first 737 MAX planes.

Normally there are financial penalties for airlines that cancel orders and for manufacturers that do not deliver according to the contract terms. It was unclear how much legal leverage the MAX grounding might give airlines to wiggle out of commitments or seek damages for costs and lost revenue.

Among airlines that may regret ordering too many 737 MAX, Sobie cited Vietnam’s VietJet Aviation JSC, which he said had based a decision to expand from an all-Airbus A320 fleet by adding 200 737 MAX jets on a flawed strategy of opening joint ventures in overseas markets.

VietJet said it was closely monitoring developments and would make a decision about its order once more is known.

Among other Asian airlines, financially troubled Malaysia Airlines said on Friday that its order for 25 737 MAX jets was under review. Garuda Indonesia said this week it might cancel its order for 20 737 MAXs, which it had already reduced from 49 before the crash.

Lion Air, one of Boeing’s top three MAX customers in terms of total orders, had already thrown into question 187 unfilled orders after its October crash. It told Reuters on Wednesday it would halt all planned 737 MAX deliveries until after a final report into its crash is released later this year.

In Europe, analysts said there was a case for and against cash-strapped Norwegian Air cancelling MAX orders: The ban would offer a reprieve from debt commitments but could leave the airline at the back of a congested Airbus order queue or increase operating costs if flights were replaced with less fuel-efficient jets.

Loss-making Norwegian already said in February it was postponing delivery of 12 MAX aircraft from 2020 to 2023 and 2024 to cut expenditure and shift its focus from expansion to profitability, and this week became the first major airline to publicly say it will seek compensation from Boeing over the MAX grounding.

A Norwegian Air spokesman declined to comment on Friday on whether it was discussing delaying or cancelling altogether MAX 8 orders, saying it was in dialogue with Boeing about a range of topics but had nothing new to share.

FLEET PAIN

For many large carriers like American Airlines Group Inc and China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, the 737 MAX a tiny proportion of the total fleet.

But smaller airlines Iceland Air, Poland’s LOT and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA had planned to use 737 MAX jets to cover 25 percent, 17 percent and 11 percent of their summer schedules respectively, Goodbody analyst Mark Simpson said, giving them a higher exposure to the grounding.

“This is going to impact on their operations and cash flow,” he said. “Particularly into the Easter peak season next month and potentially through the summer as well… People will be scrambling for spare aircraft and there are not many, so lease rates will rise.”

Meanwhile, Air Canada on Friday became the first major airline to publicly attach dollars and cents to the uncertainty surrounding the 737 MAX, saying it was suspending its 2019 financial forecasts.

One silver lining for the airlines: Reduced seat capacity may allow them to hike passenger fares, analysts said.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo; additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paolo, Cindy Silivana in Jakarta and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France's BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget
Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By David Shepardson, Richard Lough and Aaron Maasho

WASHINGTON/PARIS/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – French investigators on Friday will begin analyzing data from the black boxes of the Boeing 737 Max plane that crashed after takeoff from Addis Ababa killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving the aircraft since October.

Experts will be looking for any links between Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October crash of a 737 Max operated by Lion Air in Indonesia that killed 189 people. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing MAX jets in service because of similarities between the two crashes.

Boeing said it had paused deliveries of its fastest-selling 737 MAX aircraft built at its factory near Seattle, but continues to produce the single-aisle version of the jet at full speed while dealing with the worldwide fleet’s grounding.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers, and left the world’s biggest planemaker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were handed over to France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) on Thursday. Technical analysis would begin on Friday and the first conclusions could take several days.

U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday the 737 Max fleet would be grounded for weeks if not longer until a software upgrade could be tested and installed.

Boeing has said it would roll out the software improvement “across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.”

The captain of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 requested permission to return to Addis Ababa airport three minutes after takeoff as it accelerated to abnormal speed, the New York Times reported.

All contact between air controllers and Flight 302 to Nairobi was lost five minutes after it took off, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told the newspaper.

Within a minute of the flight’s departure, Captain Yared Getachew reported a “flight control” problem as the aircraft was well below the minimum safe height during a climb, the Times reported, citing the person.

After being cleared by the control room to turn back, Flight 302 climbed to an unusually high altitude and disappeared from radar over a restricted military zone, the person added.

Relatives of the dead stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.

“I can’t find you! Where are you?” said one Ethiopian woman, draped in traditional white mourning shawl, as she held a framed portrait of her brother in the charred and debris-strewn field.

Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 371 MAX models in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching flights to other planes in their fleets.

Nearly 5,000 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry.

“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.

Boeing would maintain its production rate of 52 aircraft per month, of which the MAX, its newest version, represents the major share. However, Boeing declined to break out exact numbers.

CONNECTION TO INDONESIA CRASH?

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited satellite data and evidence from the scene that indicated some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with October’s crash in Indonesia.

The head of the Asian nation’s transport safety committee said the report into the Lion Air crash would be speeded up so it could be released in July to August, months earlier than its original timeframe.

Though it maintains the planes are safe, Boeing has supported the FAA move. Its stock is down about 11 percent since the crash, wiping more than $26 billion off its market value. It fell 1 percent on Thursday.

U.S. and Canadian carriers wrestled with customer calls and flight cancellations and Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, the largest U.S. operators of the 737 MAX, said they had started flying empty MAX aircraft to be parked elsewhere during the ban.

U.S. President Donald Trump, an aviation enthusiast with deep ties to Boeing, said he hoped the suspensions would be short. “They have to figure it out fast,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash in October will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday.

In what may presage a raft of claims, Norwegian Air has said it will seek compensation from Boeing for costs and lost revenue after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX.

Airline Garuda Indonesia said there was a possibility it would cancel its 20-strong order of 737 MAXs, while Malaysia Airlines said it was reviewing an order for 25 of the aircraft.

Under international rules, Ethiopians are leading the investigation but France’s BEA will conduct black box analysis as an adviser. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was also sending three investigators to assist.

The cause of the Indonesian crash is still being investigated. A November preliminary report, before the retrieval of the cockpit voice recorder, focused on maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but gave no reason for the crash.

(For an interactive graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Reporting by Richard Lough, Tim Hepher and John Irish in Paris, Duncan Miriri and Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa, Jeff Mason and David Shepardson in Washington, Omar Mohammed and Maggie Fick in Nairobi; Danilo Masoni in Milan, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Allison Lampert in Montreal; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

March 14, 2019

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Thursday it was pausing deliveries of its 737 MAX aircraft to customers following the grounding of the jetliner around the world, as the world’s largest planemaker responds to its worst crises in years.

The 737 MAX has been banned from flying in most countries after an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. This was a second deadly incident involving the relatively new Boeing model in five months. In October, a Lion Air jet crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

Boeing said it had paused deliveries of its fastest-selling 737 MAX jetliner built at its factory near Seattle because of the temporary grounding order by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, confirming a Reuters report from Wednesday.

“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.

Boeing said it would continue its production rate of 52 aircraft per month, though its MAX version would not be delivered to airlines or leasing companies.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Federal policemen stand at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu
Ethiopian Federal policemen stand at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 14, 2019

By Aaron Maasho and David Shepardson

ADDIS ABABA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two black boxes from the Boeing 737 MAX airplane that crashed in Ethiopia were being taken to Paris for investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said, as regulators around the world awaited word on whether it was safe to resume flying the jets.

Following the lead of other global aviation regulators unnerved by the second crash involving a 737 MAX in less than five months, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued orders on Wednesday for the planes to be grounded.

On Thursday morning in Addis Ababa, grieving relatives of the 157 victims of Sunday’s air disaster boarded buses for a three-hour journey to the crash site in a field 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside the Ethiopian capital. [L8N2110DL]

“We saw where he died and touched the earth,” said Sultan Al-Mutairi, who had come from Riyadh to mourn his brother, Saad, who perished in the crash.

Experts say it could take weeks or months to identify the victims, as their remains were scattered, charred and in fragments due to the impact of the crash and ensuing fire.

Both the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a Lion Air crash in Indonesia occurred shortly after take-off.

New information from the wreckage in Ethiopia and newly refined data about the plane’s flight path indicated some similarities between the two disasters “that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause,” the FAA said in a statement.

An Ethiopian delegation led by the accident investigation bureau has flown the black boxes from the Ethiopia plane crash from Addis Ababa to Paris for investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday.

France’s air accident investigation agency BEA will analyze black-box flight recorders, a spokesman said.

The contents of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder that will be examined in France will provide critical details about what caused the plane crash, according to experts.

The acting administrator of the FAA, Daniel Elwell, said he did not know how long the U.S. grounding of the aircraft would last. A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since a fatal crash last October in Indonesia will take months to complete, Elwell told reporters on Wednesday.

Deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX jets were effectively frozen, though production continued, after the United States joined a global grounding of the narrowbody model over safety concerns, industry sources said.

All 737 MAX jets have now been grounded, flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said. An Air Canada flight from San Francisco to Halifax was the last to land late on Wednesday.

With the uncertainty hanging over the 737 MAX, a French presidential source said European planemaker Airbus and Ethiopian Airlines are discussing a possible new contract as part of the airline’s fleet renovation.

The official said President Emmanuel Macron and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had spoken about a possible new contract during Macron’s visit to Addis Ababa earlier this week.

Airlines operating the 371 737 MAX jets that have been delivered since its 2017 debut said they had canceled some of their flights and rearranged schedules to use other jets in their fleets.

“Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season,” said U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines Co, the world’s biggest operator of the 737 MAX.

Boeing, which maintained that its planes were safe to fly, said in a statement that it supported the FAA move.

“Boeing has determined – out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety – to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”

(Reporting by Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa and David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Omar Mohammed and Maggie Fick in Nairobi and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Jamie Freed)

Source: OANN

American civil aviation and Boeing investigators search through the debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu
American civil aviation and Boeing investigators search through the debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 14, 2019

By Conor Humphries and Eric M. Johnson

DUBLIN/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX jets were effectively frozen on Wednesday, though production continued, after the United States joined a global grounding of the narrowbody model over safety concerns, industry sources said.

The 737 MAX is banned from flying in most countries across the world following an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. It was the second deadly incident for the relatively new Boeing model in five months.

Airlines, aircraft industry experts and financiers said that although the ban would theoretically not prevent some domestic deliveries, most airlines would avoid taking a jet banned from entering service on the wake of two crashes in five months.

“Who is going to take delivery of a plane they can’t use,” said an aviation financier, asking not to be named.

Boeing produces 52 aircraft per month and its newest version, the MAX, represents the lion’s share of production, although Boeing declined to break out exact numbers.

Boeing is expected to continue with production of the 737 at its factory outside Seattle, and has been planning to speed up production again in June.

Manufacturers avoid halting and then speeding up production as this disrupts supply chains and can cause industrial snags. But having to hold planes in storage consumes extra cash in increased inventory.

Each month of the grounding could cost Boeing around $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion in delayed revenue, according to analyst estimates, although that could be recouped once the ban is lifted and the planes are delivered.

Boeing in January provided guidance it would report $109.5 billion to $111.5 billion of revenue in 2019.

Asked how the global grounding of the 737 MAX would impact deliveries, a Boeing spokesman said: “We continue to assess.”

Boeing’s main U.S. customers — Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines — declined comment. So far they have voiced their confidence in the safety of the MAX.

“Although this MAX crash is clearly ‘bad news’ for Boeing, we think the company will ultimately battle through,” Vertical Research Partners analyst Robert Stallard said in a client note.

COMPENSATION

Boeing has already been working through supplier delays on engines from CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co and France’s Safran SA, and fuselages from Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc that led to dozens of planes being parked outside its Renton, Washington factory last summer.

This week, at least three freshly built 737s were parked at or near the factory with yellow weights hanging in the place of engines, signs of lingering issues, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

“We are still a few weeks behind the requirement, but have a line of sight to be back on track in the second quarter of this year,” CFM spokeswoman Jamie Jewell said.

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was grounded for 123 days in 2013 after its lithium-ion battery packs caught fire. The jet went on to become a popular twin-aisle with a strong safety record.

Aircraft contracts do not typically contain a clause that automatically allows airlines to claim compensation for a regulatory action like a grounding.

However, planemakers do sometimes pay out compensation to cover the cost of financing when an airline is left without a promised airplane, said a senior industry source.

Even then, they generally balk at paying for other indirect costs borne by the airline.

UK-based aviation consultancy IBA estimated the financing cost of a 737 MAX at $360,000 a month or $12,000 a day.

Norwegian Air said on Wednesday it would seek compensation from plane maker Boeing for costs and lost revenue due to the 737 MAX 8 grounding.

Stallard said it was very difficult to estimate the amount of compensation Boeing would provide customers.

He added it would be impractical for airlines to try to switch their orders to the rival Airbus SE A320 narrowbody because there were no delivery slots available for a few years.

(Reporing by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Eric Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore, Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Heekyong Yang in Seoul, Aditi Shah in New Delhi, James Pearson in Hanoi and Alwyn Scott in New York; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; editing by Tim Hepher and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, comes in for landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, comes in for landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By David Shepardson and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress plans to scrutinize why the United States waited so many days to ground all Boeing Co 737 MAX jets involved in Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia as other countries and airlines acted more quickly.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the order on Wednesday was the result of “new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today” and “newly refined satellite data” that Canada had cited earlier in its decision to halt flights.

The FAA did not disclose the new evidence at the scene but said it was “the missing pieces” that aligned the track of the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes since October.

For decades, the United States has led the world in aviation safety, often setting standards that were later adopted by other countries. The agency came under heavy criticism from U.S. lawmakers and others who questioned why the FAA waited so long to ground the Boeing 737 MAX.

FAA officials plan to brief lawmakers Thursday, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

While President Donald Trump announced the ban on television, acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said he made the decision with the support of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“We were resolute in our position that we would not take action until we had data to support taking action,” Elwell told reporters. “That data coalesced today and we made the call.”

Canada grounded the planes earlier on Wednesday while the European Union acted on Tuesday. China and some airlines ordered the planes not to fly within hours of the crash on Sunday.

As of Wednesday night, regulators in Argentina and Mexico had not grounded planes.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, said “it has become abundantly clear to us that not only should the 737 MAX be grounded but also that there must be a rigorous investigation into why the aircraft, which has critical safety systems that did not exist on prior models, was certified without requiring additional pilot training.”

Elwell said Wednesday he was confident in the 737’s certification.

The Senate Commerce Committee also plans to hold a hearing as early as April. Senator Ted Cruz said he plans “to investigate these crashes, determine their contributing factors, and ensure that the United States aviation industry remains the safest in the world.”

The grounding was an abrupt reversal as the United States had repeatedly insisted the airplane was safe to fly even as regulators and airlines around the world grounded the airplane.

Trump spoke to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg on Wednesday before the announcement.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co all fly versions of the 737 MAX and immediately halted flights on Wednesday.

American, with 24 737 MAX airplanes, said it will be “working to re-book customers as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Boeing said it supported the action to temporarily ground 737 max operations after it consulted with the FAA, NTSB and its customers. Boeing shares were down 2 percent.

The shift came less than a day after U.S. regulators had again insisted the plane was safe. Even Chao flew aboard a 737 MAX on Tuesday.

The FAA plans to mandate design changes by April that have been in the works for months for the 737 MAX 8 fleet. Boeing said late Monday it will deploy a software upgrade across the 737 MAX 8 fleet “in the coming weeks.”

The company confirmed it had for several months “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer.”

The FAA said the changes will “provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

Elwell said Wednesday he was hopeful software improvements “will be ready in a couple months” after testing and evaluation is completed by the FAA of what he called a “software patch.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

A man watches debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
A man watches debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 13, 2019

By Duncan Miriri and Terje Solsvik

ADDIS ABABA/OSLO (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday it would send the black boxes from its crashed Boeing 737 MAX abroad, while a Norwegian airline sought compensation from the U.S. planemaker after two thirds of that model were grounded globally.

Sunday’s still unexplained crash of the passenger jet, just after take-off from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, killed 157 people and followed another disaster involving a 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people.

That has spooked the global airline industry and heaped pressure on Boeing, whose shares have plunged.

Multiple nations have suspended the 737 MAX, leading to the grounding of about two-thirds of the 371 jets of that make in operation around the world, according to Reuters calculations.

With no link proven between the two crashes, however, the United States has bucked the trend and allowed 737 MAX planes to continue operating even though Europe has suspended them.

Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, has said it retains “full confidence” in the 737 MAX. Its shares fell 6.1 percent on Tuesday, bringing losses to 11.15 percent since the crash, the steepest two-day loss for the stock since July 2009.

The drop has lopped $26.65 billion off Boeing’s market value.

Adding to the pressure on Boeing, Norwegian Air said it would seek recompense for lost revenue and extra costs after grounding its 737 MAX aircraft.

“We expect Boeing to take this bill,” Norwegian said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

In Ethiopia, which lacks the forensic capabilities of other countries, a spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines said the black box voice and data recorders recovered on Monday would be sent overseas for analysis.

“There is no capacity here so the black box will be sent elsewhere for analysis. The investigation team will decide where,” the spokesman told Reuters.

That could be in Europe, the company’s CEO told CNN.

U.S. officials said the black box devices suffered some damage but they were confident of some initial results within 24 hours of the data being downloaded.

More than a dozen relatives of those who perished in the crash, mainly Kenyans who have flown in, left Addis Ababa early in the morning to pay their respects at the rural crash site where Flight ET 302 came down in a fireball.

It may take weeks or months to identify all the victims, who include a prize-winning author, a soccer official and a team of humanitarian workers.

U.S. KEEPS FLYING MAX MODEL

Resisting pressure, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) acting administrator Dan Elwel said its review had shown “no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft”.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg and got assurances the aircraft was safe, two people briefed on the call said.

On Tuesday, the European Union’s aviation safety regulator suspended all flights in the bloc by the 737 MAX and a U.S. senator who chairs a panel overseeing aviation suggested the United States take similar action.

Thailand and Lebanon joined the long list of nations suspending the model on Wednesday.

The three U.S. airlines using the 737 MAX – Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines – stood by the aircraft, although many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change flights or cancel.

Of the top 10 countries by air passenger travel, all but the United States and Japan have halted flights of the 737 MAX. The EU, China, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, India and others have temporarily suspended the plane.

A debate over automation lies at the center of an investigation into October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia. A focus there is the role of a software system designed to push the plane down, alongside airline training and repair standards.

Boeing says it plans to update the software in coming weeks.

Given problems of identification at the charred disaster site, Ethiopian Airlines said it would take at least five days to start handing remains to families. The victims came from more than 30 nations, and included nearly two dozen U.N. staff.

The new variant of the 737, the world’s most-sold modern passenger aircraft, was viewed as the likely workhorse for global airlines for decades and 4,661 more are on order.

(Additional reporting by Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Omar Mohammed and Maggie Fick in Nairobi; David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The three U.S. airlines using Boeing Co’s 737 MAX continued to stand by the aircraft on Tuesday, even as some customers, unions and politicians questioned its safety after an increasing number of countries banned the plane following a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is one of the only major regulators not to suspend 737 MAX flights after Britain and the European Union joined a wave of other suspensions on Tuesday in the aftermath of two disasters involving the same plane within months.

Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines said they were still confident in their fleets. Southwest and American have both said their fleet data showed the plane was safe.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao flew aboard a Southwest 737 MAX 8 on Tuesday to Washington from Austin, according to two people briefed on the matter. A spokesman for Chao did not immediately comment.

Many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change their flights and some even asking for cancellation. Southwest Airlines’ Twitter account (@SouthwestAir) was busy with hundreds of customers concerned about the plane.

Andrea Call (@andi_call) tweeted to Southwest that she was traveling with her daughter in May. “I don’t want to be on a Boeing Max 8,” she said. The airline responded that it was focused on safety, adding, “Our fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are operating as planned today and we plan to operate those aircraft going forward.” Southwest told Call to contact it 24 hours before her flight to find out what aircraft would be used.

Twitter user Sandy (@nycsandygirl) tweeted that she had called American Airlines to change her flight but was told waivers were unavailable for nonrefundable fares.

“It is well within my right to request a change in aircraft without a change fee when safety concerns have been raised about a particular aircraft. China, Indonesia, Ethiopian Airlines & Cayman Airways have all grounded these aircraft so obviously there is a concern,” the Twitter user posted.

Unions that represent American Airlines’ flight attendants and mechanics urged American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker to consider grounding the planes pending a thorough investigation. Flight attendants said their contract allows them not to work if they feel unsafe.

A separate union representing United Airlines flight attendants also urged the FAA to ground the jets and conduct an investigation into the 737 MAX.

Pilot unions so far have not joined such requests.

A pilot union, United Master Executive Council, said it has analyzed thousands of safety data points in its 737 MAX 9 operation since May and did not find any performance or mechanical deficiencies.

U.S. Senators Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren were the latest politicians to call for the FAA to act. Warren is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote letters to Parker and the chief executives of Southwest and United urging them to voluntarily ground their 737 MAX aircraft, which includes the MAX 9 as well as the MAX 8.

The FAA and Boeing have said the planes are safe to fly.

With 34 737 MAX 8 jets, Southwest is the largest operator of the aircraft, which it said produces thousands of data points during each flight that are constantly monitored.

“To date, we have operated more than 41,000 flights and have corresponding aircraft data that indicates the effectiveness of our operating standards, procedures, and training,” spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said in a statement.

Southwest’s pilot association said on Tuesday it supported the airline’s decision to continue to fly the aircraft, as well as the FAA’s findings to date.

WAITING FOR BLACK BOXES

American Airlines said Tuesday the company continues to “believe the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe and that our pilots are well-trained and well-equipped to operate it.”

The airline is waiting for findings from the black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines that “will provide a better understanding of the cause of this recent accident.” The airline has said extensive flight data collected from its fleet gave it confidence in the safe operation of all its aircraft, including the 737 MAX 8.

American, with 24 MAX 8 planes, said it has been sharing its data with the FAA, in coordination with the Allied Pilots Association, a union that represents American’s pilots.

United Airlines, which does not fly the MAX 8 but operates another model in the series, the MAX 9, also reiterated its confidence in its pilots’ “ability to fly the aircraft safely.”

“(…) we continue to believe the planes will be found to be safe and the impact on Boeing’s long term operations, backlog, book of business and order flow will prove to be limited,” said Jim Corridore, an analyst at investment research firm CFRA who kept his “strong buy” opinion on Boeing.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York, David Shepardson in Washington and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump questioned the complexity of modern aviation technology after a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed Sunday in Ethiopia.

Trump’s tweet comes as several countries grounded the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from their airspace and investigations are underway. The Ethiopian Airlines crash was eerily similar to an October 2018 Lion Air crash in Indonesia. Both crashes occurred minutes after takeoff, killed all passengers on board, and involved pilots reporting flight control problems before losing control of the specific aircraft.

Boeing signage is seen on the outside of the Boeing Sheffield factory, the aerospace company's first manufacturing facility in Europe, in Sheffield, northern England on October 25, 2018. - The US aircraft manufacturer Boeing inaugurated its first plant in Europe in the north of England on Thursday, which will produce high value-added components and is a symbol of the Brexit approach. The opening of the site was celebrated with great pomp in the late morning in Sheffield in the presence of senior executives of the aircraft manufacturer and British politicians. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Boeing signage is seen on the outside of the Boeing Sheffield factory, the aerospace company’s first manufacturing facility in Europe, in Sheffield, northern England on October 25, 2018. – The US aircraft manufacturer Boeing inaugurated its first plant in Europe in the north of England on Thursday, which will produce high value-added components and is a symbol of the Brexit approach. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The investigation into the Lion Air crash revealed that pilots were flummoxed by new software in the Boeing aircraft and the automatic flight control systems. Boeing updated its flight control systems after the crash and is standing by the safety of its aircraft. (RELATED: Nearly 190 People Feared Dead After Indonesian Plane Crashes Into The Sea)

“Boeing has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks. The update also incorporates feedback received from our customers,” the company said in a statement, adding “it is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time, and the required actions in AD2018-23.51 continue to be appropriate.”

The 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines is pictured as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond | Southwest Airlines Plane Depressurizes

The 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines is pictured as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond | Southwest Airlines Plane Depressurizes

Despite Boeing’s statement, several countries have banned the particular 737 from operating, including Germany, the U.K., Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Sens. Mitt Romney, Richard Bluementhal, and Dianne Feinstein also called for the grounding of the aircraft until an investigation is pursued.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

March 11, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States told international carriers on Monday that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is airworthy as regulators scrutinize two fatal crashes of the new model of aircraft since October, but said it will mandate forthcoming “design changes” from Boeing by April.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 aboard and raising questions about the safety of the new variant of the industry workhorse, one of which also crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.

In a notice, the Federal Aviation Administration said it planned to require design changes by Boeing no later than April. Boeing is working to complete “flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items,” the FAA said.

The FAA also said Boeing “plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the design change” to an automated protection system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The changes also include MCAS activation and angle of attack signal enhancements.

The FAA said in the notice made public that external reports are drawing similarities between the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” according to the Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community for Boeing 737 MAX 8 operators.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters regulators would not hesitate to act if they find a safety issue.

“If the FAA identifies an issue that affects safety, the department will take immediate and appropriate action,” Chao told reporters. “I want people to be assured that we take these incidents, these accidents very seriously.”

Boeing Co’s top executive told employees on Monday he was confident in the safety of the U.S. manufacturer’s top-selling 737 MAX aircraft.

Reuters and other media outlets have reported that Boeing has for months planned design changes after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia but the FAA notice is the first public confirmation.

Canada’s transport minister also said he will not hesitate to act once the cause of the crash is known.

FAA chief Dan Elwell on Monday said the notification basically “informs the international community where we are and (gives) sort of … one answer to the whole community.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Paul Hudson, the president of FlyersRights.org and a member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, on Monday both said the plane should be grounded.

“The FAA’s ‘wait and see’ attitude risks lives as well as the safety reputation of the U.S. aviation industry,” Hudson said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are both at the crash site in Ethiopia, Chao said.

Boeing’s shares fell as much as 10 percent on the prospect that two such crashes in such a short time could reveal flaws in its new plane. Boeing, whose shares closed down 5.3 percent at $400.01 in the heaviest trading trade since July 2013, did not immediately comment Monday on the FAA notification, but said it was sending a team to Ethiopia to aid investigators.

The 737 line, which has flown for more than 50 years, is the world’s best-selling modern passenger aircraft and viewed as one of the industry’s most reliable.

China ordered its airlines to ground the jet, a move followed by Indonesia and Ethiopia. Other airlines, from North America to the Middle East, kept flying the 737 MAX 8 on Monday after Boeing said it was safe.

Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners. The 737 family is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft.

The MAX has a bigger and more efficient engine compared to earlier 737 models.

Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert Editing by Lisa Shumaker and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 plane arrives in Salt Lake City
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-800 plane arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 10, 2019

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc stock could jump into the mid $60s per share from around $50 now if it can hit its earnings target of $6 to $7 a share this year, up from $5.65 in 2018, according to an analyst in a Barron’s article on Sunday.

Atlanta-based Delta is “the leader in fare segmentation, international alliances, and technology, as well as maintenance and repair,” said Ross Margolies, who heads Stelliam Investment Management, in the article.

The article noted rumors that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc could be interested in buying an airline, noting Berkshire already owns about 10 percent of each of the four major U.S. carriers: Delta, Southwest Airlines Co, United Continental Holdings inc, and American Airlines Group Inc.

The article said “Buffett appears to be most enamored” with Delta. In a filing Friday, Berkshire disclosed that it recently lifted its stake in Delta by 5.4 million shares and now holds 70.9 million shares, a 10.4 percent stake.

Officials at Delta were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo

March 10, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A fatal crash in Ethiopia on Sunday involving an updated version of Boeing Co’s best-selling 737 is putting the spotlight back on the aircraft just five months after another deadly crash involving another brand-new model of the same type in Indonesia.

A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Adaba, killing all 157 on board.A similar model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.

Officials and analysts said it was too early to tell if there was any direct connection between the two incidents.

Boeing’s 737 is the world’s most-sold passenger jet family and is considered one of the industry’s most reliable. The MAX 8 is the latest version of the aircraft, which Boeing rolled out in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737.

By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co is the biggest operator of the MAX 8, with 31 aircraft, followed by American Airlines Group Inc and Air Canada with 24 each.

Southwest is in contact with Boeing and “remains confident in the safety and airworthiness of its fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft,” spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement.

American and Air Canada said they were closely monitoring the investigation. 

A preliminary report into the Lion Air crash focused on airline maintenance and training and the technical response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor.

Boeing is working on a software patch, while insisting cockpit procedures were already in place to deal with problems that the Lion Air jet experienced.

Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton cautioned against drawing comparisons between the two crashes, especially before the black box recorders are recovered.

Ethiopian has a strong reputation and good safety record, he said in a blog post.

Boeing is already facing a string of lawsuits in the United States over the Lion Air crash, including five cases in U.S. federal court in Illinois where Boeing has its Chicago headquarters.

The 737 MAX 8 uses LEAP-1B engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co and Safran SA.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip, Nevada, United States April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

March 8, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration warned Southwest Airlines Co and a union representing its mechanics in a letter Friday that a contract dispute could pose safety concerns.

The letter warned that a “breakdown in the relationship” between the airline and Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association “raises concerns about the ongoing effectiveness of the airline’s safety management system.”

Earlier this week, Southwest said the dispute is costing it millions of dollars in lost revenues a week as well as millions of dollars in costs related to flight cancellations and delays.

Southwest did not immediately comment on the FAA letter.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip, Nevada, United States April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

February 23, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co’s mechanics, who have been in labor contract talks for more than six years, deserve a new deal that makes them among the best paid in the airline industry, but the low-cost U.S. carrier needs “more supplier flexibility” in return, the company’s chief executive said.

The labor dispute, one of the biggest to hit a top-four U.S. airline in more than a decade, has escalated with Southwest’s daily out-of-service aircraft doubling, forcing the carrier to cancel hundreds of flights since Feb. 15.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly in an email to the company’s employees acknowledged the company was “in a period of tension and turmoil” regarding the out-of-service aircraft. Reuters obtained a copy of the email late Friday.

Kelly said the mechanics deserve a new contract and pointed out that the deal the mechanics voted down last year would have made those workers the highest paid in the industry. He said current talks offer the opportunity to offer even higher pay with no impact on job security “in exchange for more supplier flexibility.”

Southwest already outsources the majority of heavy maintenance work, such as scheduled engine repairs, to external suppliers, but wants the option to send more scheduled maintenance abroad in order to fund compensation increases. The change would not affect the kind of work currently handled by its mechanics, a Southwest spokesman said.

Officials with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), which represents about 2,400 Southwest mechanics and has been in contract talks with management since 2012, could not immediately be reached to comment on Saturday.

The union has disputed the notion that the maintenance issues are driven by the labor dispute, pointing out the company has the lowest mechanic-to-aircraft ratio of any major carrier.

In a Friday email to its members, the union rejected the company’s assertion that the maintenance issues were a job action and said mechanics should not allow themselves to be pressured to ignore safety or mechanical issues with a plane.

“If you feel you are being pressured to disregard aircraft damage or shortcut the manuals, then let your airline representative know of such threats,” union national director Bret Oestreich said in the email. “But do not get baited into acts of defiance that will be characterized as insubordination.”

Flights by Southwest accounted for more than a third of 777 U.S. cancellations between Friday and Saturday, according to FlightAware.com.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN


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