Dubai: Ahead of the Dubai Air Show, Boeing said it will spend this week talking to customers to try to “re-earn that trust” as the company continues to face scrutiny over its 737 Max aircraft.
Boeing’s 737 Max jets have been grounded across the globe since March 2019 after two fatal accidents involving the model killed over 300 people on-board in Ethiopia and Indonesia. On Saturday, Boeing said it did not have a timeline for when the Max jets will return to the skies, saying that it is up to regulators to dictate the schedule.
“I want to emphasise right up front that the number one goal here is safely returning [the aircraft to operations], and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and regulators around the globe dictate the schedule,” said Stan Deal, chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The US manufacturer had earlier said that certification of the jets should be complete by December 2019, but on Saturday stopped short of giving a timeline.
At a press conference in Dubai, Deal said that Boeing is interacting with the FAA and other regulators on a daily basis, and that it is making progress on the Max aircraft, having completed the initial phase of changes to the aeroplane model.
In the UAE, flydubai is the sole operator of 737 Max aircraft, and has had to ground all 13 of its Max jets following orders from the local regulator. The grounding had a “significant impact” on the carrier’s earnings for the first half of 2019, and flydubai is currently seeking compensation from Boeing.
Deal said that Boeing is trying to ensure it mitigates the impact of the groundings on flydubai, and that both parties are still actively working together.
Away from its 737 Max’s, Boeing is also facing pressure over its 777X aircraft model, which is yet to be launched. The model, which Boeing says will “change the world” of aviation, has had its launch postponed amid problems with its General Electric-made engines.
Dubai’s Emirates airline has 150 aircraft orders of the 777X, and has had to delay some operational plans due to the setback from Boeing.
Boeing’s Deal said on Saturday the 777X model, earlier scheduled to start flying in the summer of 2020, will be ready to fly in early 2021.
“We’re having discussions with every customer about the schedule around that, but that’s the guidance we’re giving to the market at this point,” he said.
Boeing is also in discussions with Emirates about an order of its 787 aircraft, which it said would be a great fit for Emirates’ fleet, but did not confirm whether it will be signing any deals with the airline on the model.