US ends Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes

The Boeing 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people within five months in 2018 and 2019 and triggered a hailstorm of investigations. (AP)
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Updated 18 November 2020

US ends Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes

  • Leading regulators in Europe, Brazil and China also must issue their own approvals for their airlines after independent reviews

WASHINGTON/SEATTLE: After nearly two years of scrutiny, corporate upheaval and a standoff with global regulators, Boeing Co. won approval on Wednesday from the US Federal Aviation Administration to fly its 737 MAX jet again after two fatal disasters.
The FAA detailed software upgrades and training changes Boeing must make in order for it to resume commercial flights after a 20-month grounding, the longest in commercial aviation history.
The 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people within five months in 2018 and 2019 and triggered a hailstorm of investigations, frayed US leadership in global aviation and cost Boeing some $20 billion.
The US planemaker’s best-selling jet will resume commercial service facing strong headwinds from a resurgent coronavirus pandemic, new European trade tariffs and mistrust of one of the most scrutinized brands in aviation.
“Our family was broken,” Naoise Ryan, whose 39-year-old husband died aboard Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, said on Tuesday. “We are suffering and we’ll most likely continue to suffer for a very long time, if not for the rest of our lives.”
The 737 MAX is a re-engined upgrade of a jet first introduced in the 1960s. Single-aisle jets like the MAX and rival Airbus A320neo are workhorses that dominate global fleets and provide a major source of industry profit.
American Airlines plans to relaunch the first commercial MAX flight since the grounding on Dec. 29. Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest MAX operator, does not plan to fly the aircraft until the second quarter of 2021.
Leading regulators in Europe, Brazil and China also must issue their own approvals for their airlines after independent reviews — illustrating how the 737 MAX crashes upended a once US-dominated airline safety system in which nations large and small for decades moved in lock-step with the FAA.
When it does fly, Boeing will be running a 24-hour war room to monitor all MAX flights for issues that could impact the jet’s return, from stuck landing gear to health emergencies, three people familiar with the matter said.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order lifting the flight ban early on Wednesday and the agency released an airworthiness directive detailing the required changes.
The FAA is requiring new pilot training and software upgrades to deal with a stall-prevention system called MCAS, which in both crashes repeatedly and powerfully shoved down the jet’s nose as pilots struggled to regain control.
The FAA, which has faced accusations of being too close to Boeing in the past, said it would no longer allow Boeing to sign off on the airworthiness of some 450 737 MAXs built and parked during the flight ban. It plans in-person inspections that could take a year or more to complete, prolonging the jets’ delivery.
Boeing meanwhile is scrambling to keep up maintenance and find new buyers for many of its mothballed 737 MAXs after receiving cancelations from their original buyers. Demand is further sapped by the coronavirus crisis.
Even with all the hurdles, resuming deliveries of the 737 MAX will open up a crucial pipeline of cash for Boeing and hundreds of parts suppliers whose finances were strained by production cuts linked to the jet’s safety ban.
Numerous reports have faulted Boeing and the FAA on the plane’s development. A US House of Representatives report in September said Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight and certification.
It also criticized Boeing for withholding crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and pilots including “concealing the very existence of MCAS from 737 MAX pilots.”
Boeing faces lawsuits from families of crash victims.
The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to reform how the FAA certifies airplanes, while a Senate panel is to consider a similar bill on Wednesday.


Saudi Telecom Company announces CEO resignation, share buyback

Updated 13 min 5 sec ago

Saudi Telecom Company announces CEO resignation, share buyback

  • The resignation, which will be effective March 28, 2021

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) said its board of directors accepted the resignation of chief executive officer Nasser Al-Nasser on Nov. 28, 2020, according to a bourse statement.

The resignation, which will be effective March 28, 2021, was submitted for personal reasons.

The board also delegated the nomination and remuneration committee to identify a new CEO and submit the list of candidates to the board, while taking STC’s succession plan into consideration.

Any new development will be announced in due course, the firm said.

STC completed the buyback of its shares allocated to the employees’ stock incentive plan on Nov. 26, 2020, the firm said in a statement to Tadawul.

A total of 2.98 million shares, with an approximate value of SAR 300 million (SAR 100.58 per share) were bought back in one tranche, and no additional shares will be purchased during the specified purchase period, it added.

On April 20, 2020, STC’s shareholders approved buying back 5.5 million shares at SAR 300 million ($80 million). Shareholders had also authorized the board to buy back the shares within eight months of the extraordinary general assembly date.

The shares purchased for employees’ stock incentive plan will not be entitled to any dividends during the period the company holds them, STC said in its statement on Nov. 29, 2020.

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