New York (AFP)
Seven months after the grounding of the 737 MAX's global fleet, Boeing sinks deeper into the crisis every day. The recent revelations of disturbing exchanges between employees on the problems of this aircraft before it was put on the market have thrown a chill.
The uncertainties about the return to service of the MAX are numerous. The bill could exceed $ 17 billion and Boeing must answer questions about its culture and transparency.
- Where is the case? -
The 737 MAX, a single-aisle aircraft capable of carrying up to 230 passengers (7, 8, 9 and 10), put into service in May 2017, has been grounded around the world since mid-March after two air disasters intervened within six months of each other.
On Ethiopian Airlines, an accident caused the death of 157 people on board on March 10, 2019.
Earlier, on October 29, 2018, a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed, killing 189 people.
In both cases, the automatic MCAS system, which was supposed to prevent the aircraft from going into a dive, was implicated.
A committee of the World Civil Aviation Authorities (JATR) recently found that the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) failed to properly assess the MCAS because it lacked engineers and expertise .
Several US authorities have launched investigations.
- What are the latest revelations? -
Exchanges dating back to November 2016 between two Boeing pilots, released Friday, suggest that the MCAS made the plane difficult to fly in simulator.
"It derails in the sim" (simulator, ed), wrote one of these drivers to a colleague.
Boeing had been aware of these messages for several months and forwarded them to the Justice Ministry in February, one month before the crash of Ethiopian Airlines.
But the Department of Transport and the American elected officials only became aware of it on Thursday.
- Is the future of the MAX threatened? -
Most of the experts interviewed by AFP are not worried about the safety of the 737 MAX and are adamant on one point: this aircraft, engine of the profits of the civil aviation division of Boeing, will revolve.
But when? This is the uncertainty, because the recent twists are likely to encourage regulators to inspect the aircraft from all angles. Such an examination can take a long time.
Boeing has not yet registered a firm order cancellation, even though airlines have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction.
- The CEO will he jump? -
Since the beginning of this crisis in March, no Boeing leader has been thanked or sanctioned.
The recent revelations, however, have weakened Dennis Muilenburg, the big boss, who has been removed from the chair of the board of directors, but remains a member of the body.
Analysts call for his dismissal, which could intervene, according to them, after the lifting of the prohibition of theft.
A hearing of Mr. Muilenburg on October 30 at the Congress promises to be crucial.
- What is Boeing risk? -
On the legal side, investigations by the Department of Justice and the Department of Transport could result in large fines.
However, it is hard to imagine sanctions, such as permanently pinning down the MAX, because of Boeing's unique position in the international influence of the United States.
Families of the victims also lodged a complaint.
- What is the bill? -
It stands at $ 8.4 billion so far, Boeing estimates. But Bank of America estimates the cumulative cost of the production decline, technical changes, various compensation of airlines and aid to subcontractors to 17.2 billion.
- Is Boeing's future at stake? -
The setbacks of the 737 MAX have resulted in a reduction in production rates and a dip in sales, which is expected to fall again in the coming months as the group has suspended deliveries of this aircraft.
But "it is going a little fast to think that the existence of Boeing is threatened," says Michel Merluzeau, at AirInsight Research.
Not only will Boeing recoup all deferred revenue once the flight ban is lifted, but the Chicago group also produces the 787 Dreamliner and 777 widebody aircraft, and offers lucrative services to the aviation industry.
It also has a major military division, is present in the space and board on the flying cars.
© 2019 AFP