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Boeing 737 MAX, probably grounded late this year

Boeing Co & apos; s disturbing 737 MAX fleet is expected to be grounded until the end of the year as a result of the latest aviation problem identified by US aviation security regulators, according to people briefed on the issue.

The relapse is expected to at least cause further disturbances to the aircraft in the US and abroad, as approx. 500 aircraft remain idle for months longer than previously expected. But the fallout, according to industry and officials who track the issue, is likely to also increase the ultimate financial cost to the Chicago planner and can bring public confidence in the work of Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to guarantee MAX's security. 19659003] Overviews of the latest timetable, replacing earlier, expected MAX models would resume flight in the US and many foreign countries in the fall, occurred Thursday. It came a day after the latest air combat problem became public. Unlike flawed software previously associated with an automated flight control feature called MCAS, the latest hazard involves potential hardware-related problems, according to a Boeing official.

During simulator tests of some emergency procedures, FAA pilots revealed a potentially hazardous situation they had not experienced before, according to people informed of the issue. The problem, according to Boeing's official and company airline announcements, is that if a chip inside the aircraft's flight control computer fails, it may cause indefinite movement of a panel on the aircraft's tail and point its nose down. 1

9659005] Boeings 737 MAX evolved to meet the increasing international demand for air travel and became the best-selling aircraft. WSJ's Jason Bellini looks at how the foundation of the fleet after the Ethiopian Airlines crash could have a significant impact on Boeing's future. Photo: Getty

Testing of the emergency procedures to cope with this so-called run stabilizer state, the official said it would take average pilots longer than expected to recognize and counteract the problem.

A Boeing official said the Chicago aircraft maker expects to submit revised software to MCAS and the new separate issue in September.

"We think this can be updated through a software solution," Boeing official said.

But at this point, according to some people informed about the issue, FAA experts remain convinced that a software-only solution is possible. If electronic components have to be replaced, some industry and officials said it could be a delay of approx. four months.

Out of great caution and in order to ensure that new security issues will not grow up once the Plans return to service, the FAA has conducted simulator tests of situations considered to be extremely rare during actual flight, according to the people. informed about the tests. The question that was now in focus was part of a scenario considered distant, it can only be possible to test in a simulator, rather than in an actual aircraft flown by test pilots, these people said.

Boeing's current timeline includes sending the company a final version of all necessary software updates to the FAA shortly by September or October, they also said. Then, the industry and officials will imagine that gaining official FAA approval will take at least two months, agree on the amount of additional pilot training, and the airlines will carry out the necessary maintenance checks and procedures. But even that timeline does not require any more surprises – and that it will not be necessary to replace computer chips in MAX.

Boeing has already experienced a number of schedules and unexpected delays that have plagued the plane's return to service since the spring.

Within the FAA, the new problem has created increased frustration with Boeing, according to one of the people who was briefed on the details. As a result, the Agency has stressed that it has no specific timetable for returning the MAX fleet to service and will not provide the green light until all security issues have been fully investigated and resolved.

Captain Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the association representing pilots

American Airlines Group

said the newly discovered issue raises questions about whether other problems will be found. "The latest unidentified software problem just amplifies the need to thoroughly discover the critical aircraft safety systems on the aircraft from top to bottom before returning to Max for service," he said.

But pilots also take a financial hit as the grounding pulls on. Pared-back schedules and scuttled routes mean fewer opportunities for pilots to fly and make money. The association representing pilots

Southwest Airlines

has said it plans to seek compensation from Boeing for the $ 9 million a month in lost wages faced by its members along with the legal costs incurred by the association in accordance with government inquiries.


let 24 MAX pilots go and cut off training for 21 new pilots who were expected to start flying MAX this summer. The airline has said it hopes to restore them when MAX returns.

Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com

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