Boeing announced Tuesday that orders for its 737 Max jets dried up in March, with no airlines placing any orders. The manufacturer only saw 10 orders for the plane in the first two months of 2019, compared with 112 orders in early 2018.
“Who wants to lay their money down in a deposit for an airplane that’s right now iffy?” asked commercial pilot Rob Mark, senior editor of the aviation magazine Flying and publisher of the blog Jetwhine.com. “People have a lot of confidence in the Boeing products, but this is a situation we’ve never really encountered before. People are saying, ‘Did they rush this? Are they going to fix this? When is it going to be fixed? How deeply is the FAA tied to this whole mess?’”
Meanwhile, the initial report on the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March that killed all 157 people aboard found that the pilots followed Boeing’s own safety procedures before the plane went down. Mark says that’s worrying, but it appears Boeing is taking seriously the necessary fixes to the 737 Max.
“The fact that Boeing just announced that they won’t have this software update ready until June now, to me, says Boeing finally got the message, and that they’re not going to rush this to try to get the Max back flying again,” he said.
While Mark says it’s likely Boeing can repair its reputation and win back business from major airlines, it will be more difficult to win back the public’s trust. “This is one of those onion kind of stories that every time a layer gets peeled back, you find out there’s something else going on. And it’s very disconcerting.”
Mark also says the report on the Ethiopian Airlines crash highlighted a problem with the plane’s angle of attack indicators, which help sense whether an aircraft’s engines might stall.
“I haven’t heard anybody talk about that. What’s their role in this and what’s being done to fix those? I’m sure those are produced by a subcontractor. That’s a story nobody seems to even be talking about,” Mark said.