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Boeing invites pilots and regulators to briefing as it looks to return 737 MAX to service

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Boeing Co said it invited more than 200 airline pilots, technical leaders and regulators for an information session on Wednesday as it looks to return the 737 MAX to commercial service.

The meeting is a sign that Boeing’s planned software patch is nearing completion, though it will still need regulatory approval.

Over the weekend, Ethiopian Airlines executives had questioned whether Boeing had told pilots enough about “aggressive” software that pushes the plane’s nose down, a focus of investigation into a deadly crash in Ethiopia this month that led to the global grounding of 737 MAX jets.

The informational session in Renton, Washington on Wednesday is part of a plan to reach all current and many future 737 MAX operators and their home regulators to discuss software and training updates to the jet, Boeing said in a statement.

Garuda Indonesia, which on Friday said it planned to cancel its order for 49 737 MAX jets citing a loss of passenger trust after the crashes, was invited to the briefing, CEO Ari Askhara told Reuters on Monday.

“We were informed on Friday, but because it is short notice we can’t send a pilot there,” he said, adding the airline had requested a webinar with Boeing but that idea had been rejected.

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A Boeing spokeswoman said the Wednesday event was one of a series of in-person information sessions.

“We have been scheduling and will continue to arrange additional meetings to communicate with all current and many future MAX customers and operators,” she said.

Garuda has only one 737 MAX and had been reconsidering its order before the Ethiopian crash, as has fellow Indonesian carrier Lion Air, which experienced a deadly crash in October.

Singapore Airlines Ltd said on Monday its offshoot SilkAir, which operates the 737 MAX, had received the invitation to the Wednesday event and would send representatives.

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Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, which before the grounding had been due to receive its first 737 MAX in April, said it planned to send pilots to Renton.

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices.

Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets participated in a session in Renton reviewing a planned software upgrade on Saturday.

A U.S. official briefed on the matter Saturday said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet signed off on the software upgrade and training but the goal is to review them in coming weeks and approve them by April.

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It remained unclear whether the software upgrade, called “design changes” by the FAA, will resolve concerns stemming from the ongoing investigation into the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 on board.

“After the crash it came to our attention that the system is aggressive,” Yohannes Hailemariam, vice president for flight operations at Ethiopian, told local reporters speaking in the Amharic language.

“It gives a message of stalling and it takes immediate action which is faster than the action which pilots were briefed to take by Boeing,” said Yohannes, himself a pilot with over 30 years of experience, including flying Boeing’s 777 and 787.

The U.S. official said planned changes included 15 minutes of training to help pilots deactivate the anti-stall system known as MCAS in the event of faulty sensor data or other issues. It also included some self-guided instruction, the official added.

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American Airlines said Sunday it will extend flight cancellations through April 24 because of the grounding of the 737 MAX and cut some additional flights.

Reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa; additional reporting by Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Heekyong Yang in Seoul, Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Michael Perry

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Trump had two goals in ramping up pressure on Iran — and he’s failing at both: CNN

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he doesn't want war with Iran, which would likely put him at odds with his more bellicose advisers like John Bolton.

That being said, the president clearly believes he can bully Iran into unconditional submission to whatever the United States demands. And Iran is having none of it, escalating its own acts of maritime aggression and proclaiming they have missile technology capable of striking U.S. aircraft carriers.

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Ukrainian-Russian developer with Trump Tower Moscow ties suing after getting bilked for $200,000 at inauguration

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It is illegal for foreigners to donate to presidential inaugurations, but a new lawsuit sheds light on how wealthy foreigners attempted to buy access to the Trump administration.

"A Ukrainian-Russian developer who wanted access to President Trump’s inauguration filed a lawsuit on Tuesday saying he was bilked out of the $200,000 he paid for what he thought would be V.I.P. tickets to the event," The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"The developer, Pavel Fuks, who once discussed a Moscow real estate project with Mr. Trump, said in the lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, that he had paid the money to a firm at the direction of Yuri Vanetik, a prominent Republican fund-raiser and sometime lobbyist," the newspaper explained. "But, the lawsuit said, Mr. Vanetik failed to come through with the promised tickets, and Mr. Fuks ended up watching the inauguration from a Washington hotel bar."

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Indicted Republican gets his passport back — so he can leave the country prior to his bribery trial

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Despite being indicted and waiting to stand trial, a North Carolina judge returned the passport of a top Republican and is allowing him to leave the country.

Former North Carolina GOP Chair Robin Hayes spent a decade in Congress and was once the Republican nominee for governor.

In April, Hayes was indicted on bribery and wire fraud charges.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, a federal judge will temporarily return Hayes' passport for him to travel abroad in July, WSCO-TV correspondent Joe Bruno reported on Tuesday.

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