Boeing cancels conference call with airlines on 737 MAX systems: Sources

A Boeing 737 Max taking part in flying display at the 52nd Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget Airport near Paris, on June 20, 2017.
A Boeing 737 Max taking part in flying display at the 52nd Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget Airport near Paris, on June 20, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - Boeing  has cancelled a conference call it had scheduled for Tuesday morning (Nov 20) with airlines to discuss systems on the 737 MAX model that crashed in Indonesia last month, two sources familiar with the matter said.

“Boeing has been – and continues to engage with our customers. We continue to schedule meetings to share information,” Boeing said in an e-mailed statement.

It was not clear whether the call was being rescheduled.

A third person familiar with the matter said Tuesday’s conference call was one of a series of routine technical meetings that Boeing holds with airline operators in various regions of the world.

All 189 people on board a 737 MAX operated by Lion Air died when the jet crashed into the Java Sea on Oct 29.

Shares of Boeing were down 1.5 per cent in midday trading at US$315.68, after opening significantly lower. The company’s stock has dropped 20 per cent since it hit a 52-week high of US$394.24 on Oct 30.

The stock has fallen in a broadly lower market amid increasing scrutiny by regulators and pilots into cause of the first major accident involving the 737 MAX, the latest version of the US aircraft manufacturer’s popular narrow-body plane.

 
 
 

Questions have arisen about the role that a new emergency system on the jet, designed to prevent the 737 MAX from stalling, may have played in the crash.

After the crash, the US Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines that erroneous inputs from the anti-stall system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down even when autopilot is turned off, making it difficult for pilots to control the aircraft.

Boeing has already provided two updates for operators around the world that re-emphasise existing procedures to deal with situations relating to the system.

If a group conference call is rescheduled, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines Group pilots, said his union would like to be included.

Previous calls regarding the 737 MAX have been between Boeing and airline management, with safety updates passed onto the pilots unions, sources have said.

A preliminary report on the Lion Air crash will be released on Nov 28 or 29, according to Indonesian investigators who have analysed the doomed jet’s flight data recorder.

Divers have yet to locate the airline’s cockpit voice recorder, which would shed light on pilot interactions, important for gaining a fuller picture of the circumstances of the crash.