NEW DELHI :
Fresh doubts have arisen about Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX aircraft following a new batch of messages between Boeing Co. employees, which were later brought before a US. House Committee, according to Bloomberg.
Deliveries of the aircraft to worldwide customers including India’s SpiceJet, which was one of the largest buyers, have already been delayed and it was not immediately clear whether the development would further delay schedules. A SpiceJet spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when asked by Mint.
The Gurgaon-headquartered airline has orders for 155 Boeing aircraft with purchase rights for 50 additional 737 MAX 8 and wide-body planes. The airline has taken delivery of 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes so far, which are at present grounded.
The fuel efficient aircraft is important to the airline’s strategy to expand its operations and stay profitable in a hyper competitive market like India, where margins are often wafer thin. However, the delay in the certification of this aircraft have hurt the airline by driving up its costs as the company has been forced to lease older and less fuel efficient Boeing 737 planes to make up for the capacity. An uncertainty about the future of 737 MAX planes will further hurt the finances of the airline, which has reported a Rs461 crore loss during the recently concluded September quarter.
The staff of the US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are still reviewing the messages and didn’t provide specific details about what they contain, but a committee aide said in a statement that “similar to other records previously disclosed by Boeing, the records appear to point to a very disturbing picture."
It added that the Boeing employees concerns were about the company’s commitment to safety as well as that Boeing’s production plans were not diverted by regulators or others. “The committee will continue to review these and other records provided by Boeing as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation," the aide said.
According to the Bloomberg report, these documents were turned over to the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday, a day after Boeing’s chief executive officer (CEO) and director of the company’s board Dennis A. Muilenburg resigned from his position.
Some of these messages were written by the same Boeing pilot whose 2016 messages were released in October and were the subject of sharp questioning by US lawmakers, Bloomberg said quoting sources.
The communications haven’t been released publicly.
“Boeing proactively brought these communications to the FAA and Congress as part of our commitment to transparency with our regulators and the oversight committees," Boeing Co said in a statement on Wednesday.
“As with prior documents referenced by the committee, the tone and content of some of these communications does not reflect the company we are and need to be. We have made significant changes as a company in the past nine months to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture," it added.
The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, considered a more fuel-efficient plane than its predecessors, was grounded by the regulators around the world, including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 13 March following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX near Addis Ababa on 10 March, killing 157 people, including four Indians.
This followed a Boeing 737 MAX of Lion Air crash last October 2018 that killed 180 people in Indonesia.
Earlier this month, Boeing temporarily suspended production of 737 Max planes until clearances from the FAA are obtained. The US-based company had earlier hoped to receive these clearances by January 2020. However, the FAA chief Steve Dickson had recently expressed concerns that Boeing is pursuing a return-to-service schedule for the grounded 737 Max aircraft that is “not realistic", according to a report by Reuters news agency.