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China’s big three airlines seek 737 MAX payouts from Boeing: reports

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China‘s three biggest airlines have filed claims seeking compensation from Boeing over the grounding and delayed delivery of 737 MAX 8 aircraft following two deadly crashes, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday.

The reports in various state-run media that China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Air China would seek payouts from the American aerospace giant come against the backdrop of an escalating US-China trade war.

China Southern is Asia’s largest carrier by fleet size, China Eastern is the country’s number two, while Air China is the state flag carrier.

A spokesman for China Eastern confirmed to AFP that a dispatch by state-run Xinhua news agency saying the airline had presented Boeing with a compensation claim was correct.

Neither the spokesman nor the report gave any financial or other details.

Spokespersons for China Southern and Air China could not immediately be reached for comment.

On March 11, China became the first country to order its airlines to ground the 737 MAX as a result of the two tragedies.

The day before, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, including eight from China.

That followed the October crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX, which went down shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Xinhua had reported that “grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes had resulted in great losses for the company (China Eastern), and the losses are still expanding”.

Shanghai-based China Eastern has grounded its 14 MAX planes while the US aviation giant addresses the safety risks, Xinhua reported.

It was not immediately clear how many planes the other two airlines had grounded.

But Chinese media have previously reported that a combined 96 MAX aircraft were in service among all of China‘s carriers.

There was no immediate indication that the move was related to the increasingly bitter trade conflict.

Trump launched the trade war last year to extract profound economic reforms from Beijing, accusing China of seeking to forge global industrial dominance through massive state intervention in markets and the theft of US technology.

The two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade.

The conflict has widened recently with the United States taking unprecedented steps to bar US technology sales to Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Washington suspects Huawei has deep links with China‘s military which could allow Beijing to potentially use Huawei-enabled networks for espionage or cyber-sabotage.

Boeing acknowledged Saturday it had to correct flaws in its 737 MAX flight simulator software used to train pilots.

The firm’s statement about the simulator marked a first acknowledgement of a shortcoming since the two accidents led to the worldwide grounding of the top-selling airliner.

The anti-stall system on the MAX models has been blamed in large part for the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.

Will FAA’s plan for 737 MAX fly outside US?
New York (AFP) May 22, 2019 -
Getting Boeing’s top-selling 737 MAX back in the skies faces a critical test this week as the company and US regulators each seek to restore their reputations after two deadly crashes.

The US Federal Aviation Administration convened a summit of global aviation regulators on Thursday to walk through the steps taken to address concerns with the MAX following criticism the agency dragged its feet on the decision to ground the jets.

Most agencies around the world have said little or nothing about the situation since the 737 MAX was grounded following the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, which together with a Lion Air crash in October, claimed 346 lives.

So the gathering in Fort Worth, Texas is expected to provide clues as to whether the aviation safety authorities will be willing to set aside any skepticism about the FAA, which has not yet given the green light for the 737 MAX to fly again.

Regulators “are going to want a lot of explanation,” said Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. “We’re going to learn a lot.”

The FAA would prefer to have other agencies quickly follow its lead — which previously would have been likely — but several aviation experts think that is improbable.

Europe and Canada could follow the US by weeks in allowing the MAX jets to return to the skies.

China is a wildcard. It was the first country to order the planes grounded in March, and has been sparring with the US for months over trade policy.

China‘s three largest airlines filed claims seeking compensation from Boeing over the grounding and delayed delivery of the jets, state media reported Wednesday.

– Still the ‘gold standard’? –

The FAA said 57 agencies from 33 countries will attend the summit, including China, France, Germany, Britain, India, Indonesia and Ethiopia, as well as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

The meeting comes after Boeing announced on May 16 that it completed a software update to address a problem with the flight handling program known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.

In both of the MAX crashes, the MCAS pointed the plane sharply downward based on a faulty sensor reading, hindering the pilot’s effort to control the aircraft after takeoff, according to preliminary crash investigations.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said repeatedly that there was no design flaw in the 737 MAX, and has described changes to the MCAS system as an “update” rather than a fix.

Still, the company’s reputation has taken a hit amid reports it knew of the issue before the Ethiopia Airlines crash, and received complaints from US pilots.

Boeing said it is providing additional information to the FAA in anticipation of a certification test flight, a key step in winning regulatory approval.

Long considered a “gold standard” internationally, the FAA’s reputation has suffered, amid scrutiny of the oversight process and reports it allowed Boeing to effectively self-certify some features of the MAX.

US lawmakers last week once again castigated acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell for lagging behind virtually all other regulators in grounding the planes, acting only after seeing data linking the two crashes.

“So the opposite of data is common sense,” bellowed Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, bellowed during a hearing.

“Data is fine but it’s something that’s right before your eyes,” he said, noting that non-US regulators reacted with appropriate urgency.

Elwell told the panel the agency would permit the 737 MAX to resume flights “only when the FAA’s analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it is safe to do so.”

– Lag after US? –

Aviation experts expect the US agency to clear the way for the 737 MAX in time for major American airlines to resume flights in mid-to-late summer, as they have publicly announced.

Elwell said he hoped other regulators “make their un-grounding as close to ours as possible.”

Thursday’s gathering will offer clues as to whether that is likely.

“We’ll have a much better idea of the timeline for the return of the 737 MAX,” said Michel Merluzeau of aerospace consultancy AIR.

The process would be slowed if other regulators break with precedent and insist on conducting their own test flights with the upgraded 737 MAX rather than deferring to the FAA’s judgment.

Another key question is whether other regulators have different expectations on pilot training than the FAA, which has said simulator training is not needed for all pilots.

Scott Hamilton, founder of Leeham Company, an aviation consultancy, said the FAA’s job has been made more difficult with a “drip drip” of negative media reports.

And over the weekend, Boeing acknowledged that it had to correct flaws in the flight simulator software for the MAX.

“How has Boeing assured the FAA there are no more surprises?” Hamilton asked in an email.

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Trade war threat adds to Boeing woes

New York (AFP) May 13, 2019

Already in crisis mode over the grounding of its top-selling 737 MAX aircraft, Boeing now finds itself at risk of becoming collateral damage in the US-China trade dispute.

The editor of Communist party-owned Global Times newspaper said Monday that Boeing’s order book could take a hit as Beijing parries Washington in the escalating trade fight.

China may stop purchasing US agricultural products and energy, reduce Boeing orders and restrict US service trade with China,” Global Times editor Hu Xij … read more

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