Business

Boeing to reduce production rate of troubled 737 Max jets

Aircraft maker has also revealed 2nd software problem with jets responsible for 2 deadly crashes

Posted: April 05, 2019
Last Updated: April 05, 2019

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 sits grounded at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 23, 2019. Boeing has found another software issue on the model of plane implicated in two recent deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that led regulators to ground the plane worldwide last month. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

Boeing is cutting production of its grounded Max airliner this month to focus on fixing flight-control software and getting the planes back in the air.

The company said Friday that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the 737 Max from 52 to 42 planes per month.

Boeing had already suspended deliveries of the Max after regulators around the world grounded the jet following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

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In each case, preliminary reports indicate that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed the plane's nose down. In all, 346 people died in the crashes.

The announcement to cut production comes one day after Boeing acknowledged another software issue that needs fixing on its 737 Max jets. That discovery explains why the aircraft maker is delaying its schedule for getting the planes back in the air.

A Boeing spokesman on Friday called the second software problem a "relatively minor issue" and said the plane maker already has a fix in the works.

The spokesman, Charles Bickers, said the latest issue is not part of flight-control software that Boeing has been working to upgrade for months.

FAA defends record

Meanwhile, the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told a senator that safety inspectors who certified the Boeing 737 Max jet are properly trained.

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In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Daniel Elwell said members of the flight standardization board that evaluated the Max are fully qualified for their jobs.

Committee chairman Roger Wicker wrote in a letter to Elwell that whistleblowers had told senators the inspectors didn't have all the training required by the agency.

The FAA's certification of the Max is under scrutiny following the crashes.