U.S. airlines prepare for 737 MAX tests, Southwest parks jets near desert

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By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Groups from the three U.S. airways that personal 737 MAX jets have been heading to Boeing Co’s manufacturing unit in Renton, Washington, to overview a software program improve on Saturday, at the same time as Southwest Airways Co started parking its 34 MAXs close to the California desert.

The manufacturing unit visits point out Boeing could also be nearing completion of a deliberate software program patch for its latest 737 following a Lion Air crash that killed 189 individuals in Indonesia final October, however the timing for a resumption of passenger flights on the jets stays unsure.

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which should approve the software program repair and new coaching, are beneath U.S. and international scrutiny for the reason that MAX suffered a second lethal crash involving Ethiopian Airways in Addis Ababa on March 10, which led to a worldwide grounding of the fleet.

The FAA’s performing administrator, Dan Elwell, advised lawmakers final week the company anticipated Boeing would full the software program improve as early as March 25, kicking off the approval course of.

It remained unclear whether or not the software program improve, referred to as “design adjustments” by the FAA, will resolve considerations that end result from the continuing investigation into the Ethiopian Airways crash, which killed all 157 on board.

The FAA’s aviation security chief, Ali Bahrami, briefed lawmakers on Friday concerning the newest info from the investigation.

The Allied Pilots Affiliation (APA), which represents American Airways pilots, stated it has been in talks with Boeing, the FAA and airways to get the airplanes flying once more as quickly as potential, albeit with an appropriate degree of security.

“Proper now we’re in wait-and-see mode to see what Boeing comes up with,” Captain Jason Goldberg, a spokesman for APA, stated on Saturday. “We’re hopeful, however on the identical time the method cannot be rushed.”

Boeing stated on Saturday it was persevering with to schedule conferences with all 737 MAX operators.

APA is amongst a delegation of airline security specialists and pilots set to check Boeing’s software program improve, meant to alter how a lot authority is given to a brand new anti-stall system developed for the 737 MAX.

Southwest, the world’s largest operator of the MAX, and United Airways stated they might additionally overview documentation and coaching related to Boeing’s updates on Saturday. United has 14 MAXs whereas American has 24.

In the meantime, Southwest stated it was beginning to transfer its total MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, on the southwestern fringe of the Mojave Desert, to attend out the worldwide grounding.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Enhancing by Tom Brown and David Gregorio)

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