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Boeing says 737 MAX may not win FAA approval until mid-year

Boeing 737 MAX, © Tui

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CHICAGO - Boeing said on Tuesday it does not expect to win approval for the return of the 737 MAX to service until mid-year due to further potential developments in the certification process and regulatory scrutiny on its flight control system. Still, the planemaker had also positive news to share.

Boeing said it has informed airlines and suppliers of the new estimate, which is longer than previous forecasts and also takes into account new anticipated pilot training requirements.

The Chicago-based planemaker has been updating the 737 MAX flight control system and software to address issues believed to have played a role in two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people within five months. Boeing shares were down 5% at $307.88 after the news.

Reuters reported last week that regulators had been pushing back the time needed to approve the plane, which has been grounded since the second fatal crash in March.

"Returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen," Boeing said in a statement. "We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 MAX has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers, and the flying public."

Boeing said it will provide additional information with quarterly results next week. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Tuesday:

"The FAA’s first priority is safety. The agency is following a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification standards. We continue to work with other safety regulators to review Boeing’s work as the company conducts the required safety assessments and addresses all issues that arise during testing. We have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed."

Reuters reported on Monday that Boeing is in talks with banks about borrowing $10 billion or more amid rising costs for the U.S. planemaker after the two crashes involving the 737 MAX.

Boeing confirmed on Monday that it temporary halted production of the 737 MAX in Washington state in recent days. The company had said in December it would halt production at some point this month.

Boeing has estimated the costs of the 737 MAX grounding at more than $9 billion to date, and is expected to disclose significant additional costs during its fourth-quarter earnings release on Jan. 29. Boeing faces rising costs from halting production of the plane this month, compensating airlines for lost flights and assisting its supply chain.

In separate news Boeing set a Jan. 23rd first flight date for its 777-9 - the new twin will take to the skies at 10:00 am local time Seattle.
© Reuters, | Abb.: Boeing | 21.01.2020 22:12

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