Boeing Faces Questions About Its New 737 Max Jets After Ethiopia Crash – The New York Times

Just six years ago, Boeing had another high-profile headache with a new plane, when its 787s were grounded after a series of battery problems.

Scott Hamilton, an aviation industry consultant with the Leeham Company, said Boeing’s response to the issues with the 787 — when there were 50 in service — could preview its response to the 737 Max accidents.

Still, “it would be a bigger problem,” Mr. Hamilton said, “because at this point you have something close to 300 737 Maxes already in service.”

Boeing, which makes commercial and military airplanes as well as other aerospace components, is one of the biggest exporters in the United States. The company’s main offices are in Chicago, and most of its production takes place in factories in Washington State and South Carolina.

According to Mr. Hamilton, the factory in Renton, Wash., primarily produces the 737 Max planes. Boeing also opened a so-called completion center in China in December. According to The Seattle Times, about a third of new 737s are delivered to Chinese airlines, and the new facility will allow finishing work like exterior painting and the installation of interior fixtures to happen more quickly and efficiently for those customers.

The pilots who fly the 737 Max are keeping a close eye on developments. Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot, said the training and other information had restored pilots’ confidence in Boeing since the Indonesia crash.

Mr. Tajer said it was too soon to say that the Ethiopian crash would change that view. But, he added, “We’re not far off the time when we were being told that new equipment on the Max wasn’t disclosed. We have that memory to work with.”

“It’s too early,” he said, to say what influence the crash will have, “but boy, are we watching.”


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