New York (AFP)
Back in service of the 737 MAX still expected in 2019 and maintenance of production rates: Boeing sent Wednesday positive signals to the markets, worried about the financial damage caused by the setbacks of this plane grounded since mid-March after two accidents that caused 346 dead.
In an attempt to hide a nightmarish October, marked by the disclosure of embarrassing messages from two of its test pilots about the problems of the MAX and the dismissal of the boss of the commercial aviation division, the group on Wednesday surprised media circles. 'business.
"The company anticipates a regulatory green light for a return to service of the 737 MAX early in the fourth quarter of 2019," said the aircraft manufacturer, in a statement, although he warned that the schedule will be determined by the regulators.
To reinforce this optimism, Boeing did not lower, as the experts expected, the production of the 737 MAX, currently at 42 units per month, even though the group pushed back at the end of 2020, instead of 2020, the increase to 57 monthly copies.
On Wall Street, the stock gained more than 3% in the first exchanges.
Observers and analysts believe that if the 737 MAX had to wait until 2020 to return to the global sky, Boeing should reduce production because it can not deliver the manufactured devices.
Such a decision would have social repercussions, notably in the Renton plant, near Seattle (north-west), which manufactures this aircraft and employs 12,000 people. There would also be a snowball effect among suppliers, mainly US VSEs and SMEs.
Boeing's optimism contrasts with the pessimism of the airlines, which canceled scheduled flights on the 737 MAX until early 2020, citing disagreements between the world's civil aviation authorities.
- No new financial charges -
The European regulator (EASA) has however suggested that its green light will not intervene this year. As for the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), criticized from all sides for having entrusted the certification of important systems of the aircraft to Boeing, it promises a thorough inspection.
The question of pilot training - on simulator or just by computer and iPad? - still has not been resolved.
"Our priority is the safe return to service of the 737 MAX, and we are making steady progress," said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's chief executive officer, who recently lost his position as chairman of the board of directors.
Boeing also did not announce any new financial charges to cover the grounding of the aircraft.
The group must however compensate the airlines and also face the complaints of the families of the victims and the investigations of the American authorities.
The crisis continued to trim profits, which were halved in the third quarter to $ 1.17 billion.
Driven by a 67% drop in commercial aircraft deliveries, sales plunged 20.5% to $ 19.98 billion.
Cash went into the red with a deficit of $ 2.89 billion, while costs related to the 737 MAX increased by $ 900 million in the quarter.
The total bill now stands at $ 9.3 billion between the disruptions caused by the grounding of the aircraft and the various allowances that Boeing will pay to the airlines.
The crisis could take a new turn, with the crucial hearing, on October 30, before the US Congress of Dennis Muilenburg.
Elected officials plan to question him on the messages between two Boeing test pilots in which it appears that there were possible malfunctions of the autopilot system, MCAS, implicated in accidents of Ethiopian Airlines MAX March 10 and Lion Air on October 29, 2018.
This system, which was supposed to prevent the aircraft from going into a dive, made it difficult to fly a simulator, according to these conversations.
The FAA has ordered Boeing to explain and consider taking sanctions.
In the face of criticism, the aircraft manufacturer landed on Tuesday Kevin McAllister, the head of commercial aircraft, which was not in the company at the time of development of the 737 MAX.
Other heads could fall, analysts say, which do not exclude a departure of Mr. Muilenburg once the 737 returned to the world sky.
© 2019 AFP