Boeing has invited regulators, technical experts, and pilots from around the world to a briefing scheduled for Wednesday for a company status update. The meeting is being taken as a sign that Boeing is close to a software fix that would keep the 737 Max from the suspected problem of mistakenly pushing the nose down, thinking that the plane is climbing too high and close to stalling.
The aerospace giant is trying to salvage its reputation in the aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed the 157 people on board. It and the Lion Air flight from Indonesia last fall that killed 189 people had one thing in common: the Boeing 737 Max 8.
Since the Ethiopian disaster, orders have been cancelled, with more cancellations in the works. Flights are grounded around the world, Boeing’s share prices have dropped by 14%, and a fix could cost $500 million and take six months to complete. That’s all to say nothing of the risk of massive lawsuits.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said in a statement Monday that he still “believes in” Boeing. But the process remains turbulent. Garuda Indonesia, which planned to cancel its order for 49 of the craft, said that it was informed of the meeting on Friday, which wasn’t enough time to free up a pilot to attend. The airline requested a webinar briefing, but reportedly Boeing said no.
At the foundation is a question of whether Federal Aviation Administration should have deregulated some safety-certification functions and turned them over the Boeing, which had pushed for a faster process. U.S. lawmakers are looking at increasing oversight.