Boeing sets briefing on 737 MAX aircraft software and training updates

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices. (Reuters)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Boeing sets briefing on 737 MAX aircraft software and training updates

  • The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices
  • Regulators this month grounded the worldwide fleet of the aircraft following a crash that killed 157 people

ADDIS ABABA/SINGAPORE: Boeing will brief more than 200 global airline pilots, technical leaders and regulators this week on software and training updates for its 737 MAX aircraft, as Ethiopian Airlines expressed confidence in the planemaker despite a recent crash.
The carrier will work with Boeing and other airlines to make air travel safer, its chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, said, after regulators this month grounded the worldwide fleet of the aircraft following a crash that killed 157 people.
“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years.”
However, many questions on the 737 MAX “remain without answers,” Tewolde added, and a spokesman for the carrier said it had no “immediate plans” to attend the Boeing session, without giving further details.
Wednesday’s meeting is a sign that Boeing is nearing completion on a planned software patch required to return the grounded fleet to commercial service, though it will still need approval from regulators.
The session in Renton, Washington is part of an effort 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.
The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices.
Garuda Indonesia was invited to the briefing, Chief Executive Ari Askhara said on Monday. Last week, Indonesia’s national carrier said it planned to cancel its order for 49 737 MAX jets, citing a loss of passenger trust.
“We were informed on Friday, but because it is short notice, we can’t send a pilot,” Askhara said, adding that the airline had requested a webinar with Boeing, only to be rejected.
A Boeing spokeswoman said the meeting formed part 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, which has only one 737 MAX, had been reconsidering its order before the Ethiopian crash, as had fellow Indonesian carrier Lion Air, which suffered a crash in October that killed all 189 aboard.
Boeing had informed the airline of the meeting but it might not attend, said Lion Air Managing Director Daniel Putut, who declined further comment.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. said its offshoot, SilkAir, which operates the 737 MAX, had received an invitation to the meeting and would send representatives.
Representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will also attend, a spokeswoman for the regulator said.
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. South Korean low-cost carrier Eastar Jet will send two pilots, a spokesman said.
On Saturday, teams from the three US airlines that own 737 MAX jets joined a session in Renton reviewing a planned software upgrade.
Flydubai representatives attended that session and some will also attend this week’s meeting, a spokeswoman for the Dubai-based airline said.
A US official briefed on the matter on Saturday said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had not yet signed off on the software upgrade and training but aimed to review and approve them by April.
It remained unclear whether the software upgrade, called “design changes” by the FAA, will resolve concerns stemming from the investigation into the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Tewolde, the airline’s chief executive, said until there were more answers about the 737 MAX, the planes should remain grounded, adding, “Putting one more life at risk is too much.”
The US 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.


Lufthansa profit warning spooks European airline sector

Updated 17 June 2019
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Lufthansa profit warning spooks European airline sector

  • Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary last month warned of the impact of what he called ‘attritional fare wars’

FRANKFURT: Germany’s Lufthansa sent shockwaves through the European airline sector on Monday as it cut its full-year profit forecast, with lower prices and higher fuel costs compounding the effect of losses at its budget subsidiary Eurowings.
The warning follows gloomy comments last month from Irish budget airline Ryanair, which vies with Lufthansa for top spot in Europe in terms of passengers carried. Air France-KLM also reported a widening quarterly loss last month.
In a statement issued late on Sunday, Lufthansa forecast annual EBIT of between €2 billion and €2.4 billion, down from the previously targeted €2.4 billion to €3 billion.
“Yields in the European short-haul market, in particular in the group’s home markets, Germany and Austria, are affected by sustained overcapacities caused by carriers willing to accept significant losses to expand their market share,” it said.
European airlines are locked in a battle for supremacy, with a surfeit of seats holding down revenues and higher fuel costs adding to the pressure. A number of smaller airlines have collapsed over the past two years.
Lufthansa cited falling revenue from its Eurowings budget business as a key reason for the profit warning.
“The group expects the European market to remain challenging at least for the remainder of 2019,” it said.
It also pointed to high jet fuel costs, which it said could exceed last year’s figure by €550 million, despite a recent fall in crude oil prices.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary last month warned of the impact of what he called “attritional fare wars” and said four or five European airlines were likely to emerge as the winners in the sector.
“No signs that anyone is prepared to reduce capacity, therefore we would anticipate the wave of consolidation in European short haul is not over,” said analyst Neil Wilson, analyst at London-based broker market.com.
Earlier this month global airlines slashed a widely watched industry profit forecast by 21 percent as an expanding trade war and higher oil prices compound worries about an overdue industry slowdown.
Lufthansa’s problems are centered on its European business, with a more positive outlook for its long-haul operations, especially on transatlantic and Asian routes.
Eurowings management is due to implement turnaround measures to be presented shortly, Lufthansa said, adding that efforts to reduce costs had so far been slower than expected.
Lufthansa’s adjusted margin for earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was forecast between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent, down from 6.5 percent to 8 percent previously, it said in a statement.
Lufthansa also said it would make a €340 million provision for in its first-half accounts, relating to a tax matter in Germany originating in the years between 2001 and 2005.