No Christmas Present
Like a child that goes around telling everyone what is going to happen Christmas morning, Boeing just received a massive reality check, that, despite how every often you say something, it doesn’t always make it happen!!
The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFrazio (D-Oregon) released documents today which showed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted that if changes were not made to the 737 Max, there was the potential of it being involved in 15.4 fatal crashes during its service life. That prediction was completed after the first crash in December 2018 and long before the Ethiopian 737 crashed.
“I am not aware of any other certified transport aircraft that has such an analysis,” DeFazio said. In fact similar analyses on other aircraft have predicted 10 or fewer fatal accidents. The chairman also questioned “why the aircraft wasn’t grounded once this analysis was done as opposed to allowing the plane to fly while Boeing worked on a fix.”
This revelation was quickly followed by FAA Administrator, Stephen Dickson, telling CNBC that the MAX:
- (a) will not be cleared to fly until 2020;
- (b) that the agency was in no hurry to get it flying again;
- (c) that there are 10 to 11 milestones left to complete before it can be approved.
“We’re going to follow every step of the process, however long that takes,” Dickson said. “I’ve made it clear that I’m going to support my people and that means they are going to take whatever time it takes to get this process completed and to do it the right way. The process is not guided by a calendar or schedule. Safety is the driving consideration.” He went on to add that his team is currently validating the plane’s software and how that software was developed.
And we are still not done with this story today. Stephen Dickson’s will appear before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure where lawmakers are sure to question him about whether the agency cut corners before the Max was finally approved in 2017. If the FAA finally admits this happened, Dickson is certain to be asked what needs to change in their procedures in the future, something he has called premature to talk about.
Boeing manager, Ed Pierson, is also due to appear before the committee. He raised safety concerns about the 737 Max production line with Boeing and the FAA. Boeing maintained it listened and implemented changes where necessary, but that has not stopped Pierson being called as a witness.
Meanwhile the impact of the grounding continues and most airlines do not expect to have them flying before March 2020 (they probably mean March 31 not March 1!). To underline the losses airlines face, TUI based in Europe and a 737 Max customer, today reported the grounding had cost them €293m (£247m) to date. The London Financial Times reports that if the ban remains beyond February, the grounding could cost TUI up to €400m (£339m) more in the coming year as they will not have time to prepare the fleet for the summer peak season.
And they only have 15 of the 72 aircraft they have ordered, with others built but parked up at Boeing waiting to be fixed. Multiply that by all the other airlines and the longer the delays continue the compensation claims against Boeing will just keep growing. It is hard to see the $9.2bn cost Boeing reported last month being close to the final cost.
That sound you can hear over Christmas will not be “jingle bells” but Boeing haemorrhaging cash. This worst of nightmares for them shows no sign of ending anytime soon.