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Boeing software update gets global review as regulators meet in Texas

By SCOTT REEVES | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-23 09:33

The company logo for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, March 11, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Regulators from China and around the world were scheduled to meet on Thursday in Texas to review software updates for the Boeing 737 Max and to determine steps to assure a safe return of the airliner to service.

In addition to China and the United States, countries participating in the review include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, and foreign regulators are not yet expected to announce an official schedule for the return of Max jets.

The FAA, which organized the meeting in Fort Worth, said it does not need the agreement of the foreign regulators to approve Boeing's application to recertify the plane, but seeks to avoid a repeat of events following the second of two fatal crashes of Max jets.

China grounded the aircraft prior to other nations and apparently without reviewing the flight data.

There are about 400 Max jets in service worldwide, including about 97 in China.

"It's a great opportunity for the FAA to work on its communications and to get input from overseas regulators about their concerns with the 737 Max as well as the certification process, which has been pretty much the world standard to this point," James Hall, a former chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board, told China Daily.

"I think the meeting will be helpful. There's a lot to talk about. We haven't seen any steps from FAA to make changes in the oversight process, which was obviously flawed based on information reported in the news media and (congressional) hearings."

Boeing Max jets were grounded worldwide following crashes in Ethiopia March 10 and in Indonesia this past October. A total of 346 passengers and crew were killed.

The FAA could approve the software fix for the anti-stall device by late May or early June and could certify the plane for commercial flights by the end of June.

The International Air Transport Association will convene on Thursday in Montreal to discuss safety and returning the plane to service. In attendance will be officials from airlines that fly Boeing Max jets or have them on order,

China Eastern Airlines announced that it will seek compensation from Boeing for the grounding of its 14 Max planes. The airline has delayed deliveries of 737 Max aircraft. Reports in The People's Daily newspaper did not state the amount of compensation China Eastern seeks.

Air China, China Southern and China Eastern may take joint actions in seeking compensation from Boeing, Bloomberg reported.

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