Nov 14, 2019

Southwest pilots' union head blasts Boeing over handling of 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Jon Weaks, the president of Southwest Airlines' pilot union, on Wednesday accused Boeing of pressuring regulators to fast-track the ungrounding of the 737 MAX aircraft in a memo to the union's members.

"Boeing will never, and should not ever, be given the benefit of the doubt again. The combination of arrogance, ignorance, and greed should and will haunt Boeing for eternity."

The big picture: The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the aircraft eight months ago following two fatal crashes, and federal regulators have since been reviewing proposed software fixes for the 737 MAX's flight control system.

  • Weaks criticized Boeing executives for repeatedly pushing the negative consequences of the plane's grounding on the company's production line, saying there "is some concern that this is simply another tactic to push the [return to service] timeline up."

Between the lines: Weaks also said he supports Southwest airline adopting a non-Boeing aircraft to replace the 737 MAX.

  • Southwest Airlines has flown only Boeing 737 aircraft for 50 years and has largest delivered fleet of 737 MAX planes in the world — with hundreds more on order.
  • The pilots' union filed suit against Boeing last month, claiming that it has lost money over cancelled flights due to the 737 MAX's grounding, per the AP.

The other side: "We look forward to working with pilots, flight attendants and our airline customers to re-earn their trust," Boeing said in a statement to Business Insider.

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FAA says it will inspect each Boeing 737 MAX before delivery

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a letter Tuesday that it intends to individually inspect and approve every 737 MAX before Boeing can deliver them to airlines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Despite public pressure from Boeing to get the 737 MAX back in the air as soon as January, the agency's decision removes the aircraft maker's authority to perform its own pre-delivery safety checks and sign-offs — and could draw out the aircraft's ungrounding process.

Go deeper: Southwest pilots' union head blasts Boeing over handling of 737 MAX

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Boeing settled four lawsuits with a Seattle law firm on Friday that's representing families of passengers who died when the Lion Air flight crashed in Ethiopia in Oct. 2018, AP reports.

Why it matters: Boeing has taken heat over how it responded in the aftermath of the two crashes that collectively killed 346 passengers. In early November, lawmakers grilled CEO Dennis Muilenburg over how much he was paid following the crashes.

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Whistleblower: I warned Boeing about 737 issues before crashes

Photo: Xinhua/Joel Lerner via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating claims by former Boeing manager Ed Pierson that he warned the company of issues affecting 737 Max planes months before two deadly crashes involving the fleet.

Where it stands: Pierson is due to testify before Congress this week on the firm's safety failures. He told NBC News that he lobbied Boeing executives in the summer of 2018 through spring 2019 to check on conditions at a Boeing plant in Renton, Washington.

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