Boeing this week announced that it has paused deliveries of its 737 MAX after an electrical issue grounded more than 100 of the planes worldwide earlier this month.
The problem is the latest to impact the aircraft, which were grounded for most of 2019 and 2020 after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. Boeing had resumed deliveries of the jets, its bestselling aircraft, late last year after regulators approved a number of fixes after the crashes.
Longer Final Fix for Boeing
A final fix for the planes has taken longer than originally expected and comes as airlines are gearing up for a busy summer travel season after a pandemic-devastated 2020. CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC earlier Wednesday that he expected to finalise the repair instructions ‘in relatively short order’ but did not provide an exact date.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which would approve the fixes, said it is “continuing to work closely with Boeing on this issue.”
A fix for the electrical issues will likely take just a few days per airplane, Mr. Calhoun said. He said on a quarterly call that the new pause in MAX deliveries to airlines “will make our April deliveries very light.”
“At this time, we expect to catch up on deliveries over the balance of the year,” the Boeing CEO said. Boeing shares were down more than 3% in mid-day trading after the company reported a wider-than-expected loss.
U.S. carriers including Southwest Airlines Co., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. parked a combined 67 of the workhorse planes Friday, about a third of the MAX jets currently in service around the world.
The manufacturing fault affects aircraft at 16 airlines, not the entire MAX fleet, Boeing said in a statement.
Backup Power Control Issue
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said the potential lapse “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit,” adding that the agency is in “contact with the airlines and the manufacturer and will ensure the issue is addressed.”
The newest MAX disclosure comes as Boeing contends with quality lapses and manufacturing flaws that have damaged its reputation and affected its 787 Dreamliner, KC-46 aerial tanker and Starliner spacecraft.
The aerospace titan also has fired and sued a sub-contractor on another high-profile project: turning two 747 jumbo jets into the next Air Force One fleet to haul U.S. presidents.
The latest issue was discovered by Boeing mechanics “on a production airplane during normal build activity,” according to a message to customers that was reviewed by Bloomberg.
Operators were notified just hours after a separate email touting the growing number of flight hours and planes in service since the grounding ended in the U.S.
Boeing declined to say how many planes were affected of the 183 MAX jets that have been put back into service since December. About 20 operators have been conducting about 400 daily flights, according to a separate memo.