Bad news for Boeing in MAX recertifications

As the FAA prepares to accept a raft of re-designs and software updates to the control systems on the 737MAX, Canada and the EU dropped a bombshell; they’re not willing to re-certify the aircraft without more changes to the control systems, above and beyond the FAA requirements.

It’s a knock for Boeing, but even more of one for the FAA which was once regarded as the de-facto leader others followed. The MAX saga has destroyed that leadership, probably for good.

Boeing suppliers are already facing job cuts and serious financial losses. Spirit who manufacture the fuselage parts, had just restarted low level production at Boeing’s request, only to be told that the total for the year, listed as ship sets, were cut to 70 – when 35 had already been delivered. That means building barely 60% of one months capacity in the next 6 months. Spirit is facing serious financial issues as a result.

A slow but steady stream of cancellations is also causing Boeing concerns. Air Canada, Qatar and two lease companies have cut the aircraft, deferments are endless. The future of the Sun Express orders is also in limbo now that Lufthansa has closed its end of the venture.

IAG is said to be struggling at board level with actually formalising their memorandum of understanding for 200 aircraft into a binding contract. The feeling is that while it was a negotiated bargain deal, it’s still a lot of aircraft that aren’t best in class and would be a huge commitment. Now that the group airlines have left Gatwick Airport, there’s even less need for them.

On the bright side, RyanAir Group sees the chance of scoring a bargain and is said to be planning another 200 aircraft order to take it through to 2026-28.

The problem is nobody wants the aircraft right now, and while that’s good for resolving the raft of problems it should never have been allowed to fly with, it’s not good for the manufacturing sector that needs to keep skilled workers employed.

More concerns are also being quietly raised in Europe and elsewhere over the 777-9 and the certification process around it. For the first time in decades, it seems a major aircraft won’t be certified near simultaneously. Talk is of a year or more between US and EASA certifications.

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