Sat, 20 Apr 2019

Boeing plans to meet this week with customers and regulators to explain the measures it's taking to get its 737 Max back into service, after the aircraft was grounded following two deadly crashes in less than five months.

The planemaker invited more than 200 pilots, technical leaders and regulators for an informational session Wednesday in Renton, Washington, where the model is built, Boeing said in an emailed statement Monday. The company said it met Saturday with some US and overseas customers.

Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration have come under scrutiny over the certification of the 737 Max after crashes of an Ethiopian Airlines flight this month and a Lion Air jet in October raised concerns about an automated safety system on the plane. US air-safety regulators are leaning toward approving Boeing's changes to software and pilot training for the Max, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing people familiar with the matter.

"We had a productive session this past Saturday and plan to reach all current and many future Max operators and their home regulators," Boeing said in the statement. "We continue to work closely with our customers and regulators on software and training updates for the 737 Max."

Airlines around the world are shuffling schedules. American Airlines is extending flight cancellations until April 24 as it waits for information from US authorities about when service can resume, according to a statement. This will mean the cancellation of about 90 flights each day, it said.

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA meanwhile said it will take short-term leases on replacement aircraft while using additional 787 Dreamliners to combine frequencies across the Atlantic. The company is also postponing the sale of six of its older generation 737s to help cover for its 18 grounded Max jets.

The cash-strapped Scandinavian carrier, which was among the first of Boeing's customers to say that it would seek compensation for the groundings, said it has "a good dialogue" with the airframer and "is confident to reach a constructive agreement".

New Software

Boeing shares added 1.2% at 09:32 in New York.

The manufacturer's planned upgrade for the Max's software will make its automated stall-prevention feature less aggressive and more controllable. Training will highlight information about when the system engages and how to shut it off, according to the Journal's report.

The system, which is called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, was supposed to counteract a changed center of gravity on the Max, which has larger and more powerful engines than its predecessors.

The software intervenes automatically, without a pilot's knowledge, when just one of two sensors indicates the aircraft is at risk of a stall. The so-called angle-of-attack vane provided a faulty reading to pilots of the Lion Air plane that crashed in October, according to a preliminary report by Indonesian investigators.

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