APRIL 2019 – As we near the world’s peak flying season (May-July), Boeing is facing mounting pressure to update the software for its bestselling aircraft, the 737 Max.
Company engineers and test pilots are working to fix anti-stall technology that is suspected to have played a role in two deadly crashes in the last six months. Meanwhile, the Boeing 737 Max remains grounded worldwide and airlines are losing money by canceling flights.
German tour operator TUI Group said 2019 profits will drop over R3 billion because of the Max grounding. That forecast assumes the planes are flying again no later than mid-July.
United Airlines, which has 14 Max jets, said the grounding isn’t hurting the airline yet, but the financial pain “is expected to increase if the grounding extends into the peak summer travel season.”
Boeing is also seeing its own expenses rise, although it would not disclose how much it is costing the company to make the software fix and also train pilots how to use it.
Then there is the potential cost of lawsuits stemming from October’s crash of a Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia and the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 near Addis Ababa. In all, 346 people died.
Already one law firm alone has filed seven lawsuits against Boeing in federal district court in Chicago; six were filed on behalf of families of passengers on the Lion Air jet and one by the family of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger.
The lawsuits claim that the flight-control system on the plane was defective and that Boeing failed to warn airlines about it or train pilots how to respond if it caused the plane’s nose to sink. The automated system, called MCAS (or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), was not on previous 737s.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cayman Islands, Canada, China, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong are just a few of the 50 countries that have opted to ground their Boeing 737 Max aircrafts.