Impact Publications : MICEBTN-73
MICEBTN - September 2019 • Page 25 issues have surfaced. Boeing’s challenge now To ensure the MAX fleet is back in action safely and as soon as pos- sible, Boeing engineers currently are working on an aviation logistics program that dwarfs almost anything done outside times of war. Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief engineer John Hamilton says as well as retrofit- ting the 387 grounded jets with new MCAS software, the work includes synchronising inputs from 680 com- ponent suppliers. The program also involves assem- bling tool kits for technicians who will install the software updates plus procedures for other staff tasked with checking jets that have been idle for months, many of them at airports/coun- tries far from their home bases. Estimates are that each jet will need 100-150 hours to make it comply with whatever the Fed- eral Aviation Authority (FAA) demands. At the same time, the manufacturer has oth- er teams working with customers to decide on the order in which each airline’s grounded jets will be returned to service. And of course which airline’s jets will be repaired first. These commercial/ technical teams are working hand-in-glove with other Boeing staff who are ne- gotiating compensation agreements with airlines that had to cancel flights, cut capacity, drop routes and in some cases, find other planes to fill MAX slots - and find pilots qualified to fly them. There’s also a legal team charged with defending the company against multiple law suits connected to the two disasters. As mentioned, these are by the families of the 346 victims, plus a pilots action and one from Boe- ing’s own shareholders. The lawsuits accuse Boeing of ‘greed and misconduct’ and also claim Boeing did not fully inform its customers’ pilots about MCAS. The suits have been filed in the US, Indo- nesia, Kenya, France and Ethiopia, all of which have different laws and compensation limits. To add to the complexity of the repair program, as well as the 387 grounded customer jets, there are two different ‘new MAX’ categories: The hundreds of jets produced and parked by Boeing since March, all of which will be retrofitted with new MCAS software (and any other mandated improvements/repairs) prior to their delivery to customers - and the jets that will be produced after authorities give the Boeing fix/ es the green light. Cancelled orders Of the new jets already built, about a dozen belong to lessors and haven’t yet been assigned to airlines, while some were built (and branded) for carri- ers including India’s now-bankrupt Jet Airways. Also, some airlines that bought the MAX have since tried to delay deliv- eries and two, Indo- nesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and Saudi carrier Flyadeal, have can- celled orders for 49 and 30 MAX jets respectively. Other airlines have said they are concerned their customers will be reluctant to fly on the MAX for some time after it returns to service - al- though studies and surveys indicate most airline customers either have forgotten that the MAX was the plane involved in the two disas- ters, or they don’t know and don’t care. ‘Customer concern’ at those airlines doubtless will convert to added compensation demands. Regardless of what happens to the new jets, the 387 aircraft in service before the grounding will be returned to service by a mix of airlines’ own engineers and Boeing teams that already are deployed around the world in order to assist its customers. These already-complex prepa- rations are taking place despite a number of aviation authorities including the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that say regardless of any FAA decision to green light the MAX, they will make their own decisions concerning a time frame for the MAX’s return to service in their airspace. Boeing ceo Dennis Muilenburg has conceded this will be the case, saying: “We don’t control the time line.” As well as timing, Boeing also doesn’t control the weather where the grounded jets sit. Jets in cold- er regions may need aircraft an- ti-freeze treatments, while others in warmer areas may have suffered humidity/condensation damage to sensitive electronics and fuel lines. In a nutshell, every grounded plane will have to be checked nose-to-tail, inside and out. Another challenge will be finding enough pilots to conduct any on-ground and flight tests, though Boeing may already have contact- ed aircrew and training providers for temporary staff. Estimated cost to Boeing so far? About US$8 billion and counting. How it all began ... THE BOEING 737 MAX was expect- ed to require a ‘new aircraft type’ certification by US authorities, but instead was accepted as an ‘upgraded B737’ - and therefore avoided the more-lengthy process. Its airline customers benefited from this in two ways: Their new and more-ecomical jets were de- livered sooner and they didn’t have to put their 737 pilots through expensive and time-consuming retraining. It was a popular decision. The new series was announced on August 30, 2011 and gained FAA certification in March 2017. The first delivered was a MAX 8 in May 2017 to Indonesia’s Malindo Air. As of June 2019 Boeing had re- ceived 4,934 firm MAX orders. The 737 MAX is offered in four variants, the MAX 7, MAX 8 and MAX 9 plus the upcoming stretched MAX 10 (originally scheduled to be delivered by July 2020). Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and ceo. He heads the world’s biggest aerospace company with about 150,000 employees globally.