Pilots at Southwest Airlines are suing Boeing for loss of wages totaling $US100 million as a result of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding.
United States and European Union regulators said on Tuesday they are still reviewing Boeing's changes to 737 MAX software, throwing into question the speed at which the grounded aircraft can realistically return to service. "We are in continuous contact with both the FAA and Boeing", a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) spokesperson said by email. The filing accuses Boeing of rushing the redesigned 737 to market, prioritizing the company's profits over safety and sound design and engineering practices.
Boeing expects the Max to fly again this year.
The 737 is a longtime airline favourite for short and medium routes, and the Max, which debuted in 2017, was created to be a more fuel-efficient update. Southwest dropped the plane from its schedule through January 5, and Weaks said he doesn't expect it back until February or March.
Spokesman Peter Pedraza said Boeing believes "this lawsuit is meritless and will vigorously defend against it". We would like to see the 737-MAX return to service as soon as possible but only once we are convinced it is safe. Its shares were little changed after the close of regular trading.
The Southwest pilots won't be the only group seeking compensation from Boeing.
A Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane rolls toward takeoff before a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.
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The union filed the suit in federal court in Dallas.
The new issue was identified during tests in June when a test pilot found that the procedure took more time than was acceptable to execute. They include a criminal probe led by the U.S. Justice Department. Within days, aviation authorities around the world began grounding the Max. The accidents killed a total of 346 people. "The problems they had with MCAS are being engineered out of it".
Boeing claimed the aircraft was "airworthy" and the same as the 737 pilots had flown for years but that representation was false, SWAPA wrote. The union said the grounding has eliminated more than 30,000 Southwest flights. "We are aware that their pilot union, SWAPA, has filed a lawsuit against Boeing related to the 737 MAX suspension of operations".
"We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft", captain Jonathan Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (Swapa), said.
Southwest was hit especially hard by the grounding because it is the largest operator of the 737 MAX, according to the union's release.
Boeing had initially scheduled the plane to re-enter service at the end of August but disagreements over software details, centered on how the plane's dual flight-control computers are now meant to start working together, have put that date back to at least the end of November.
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