As the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom begins on Monday, Boeing is trying a new impetus to extricate itself from the historic crisis it is going through. Expected on announcements of new commercial orders, Boeing will also present several aircraft including the MAX 10, the latest and largest version of its flagship model.
After the accidents of the 737 MAX, the group intends to prove that the setbacks of its medium-haul are behind it. This device was grounded for twenty months, from March 2019 to December 2020, after two fatal crashes of another MAX variant. “The most difficult of our crises is handled effectively. It’s not over,” but the manufacturer is putting its MAX aircraft back into service for [ses] customers,” said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun in an interview with FT released on Monday.
The fate of the MAX 10 in suspense
Since the return to the skies of the MAX, Boeing has tried to make amends with the American authorities and regulators, partially acknowledging its responsibility in the accidents and paying several billion dollars to settle the lawsuits. “On the MAX, we have passed the course”, sums up Michel Merluzeau of the specialist firm AIR, who nevertheless believes that “there are still a lot of questions to be resolved on the supplier side”, linked to the problems of the global supply chain, staff shortages and the Ukrainian crisis. “We will be limited by supply problems for a while,” acknowledged Stan Deal, president of Boeing’s commercial division, on Sunday.
The fate of the MAX 10 is also in the hands of the US Congress, which must decide by the end of December whether or not to grant an exemption to a law imposing new standards for the crew alert system. A lack of certification would imply additional training for pilots, making the model more expensive for companies, which could turn away from it.
A debt of 58 billion dollars
In the widebody market, most deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner have been frozen since manufacturing defects were discovered in the summer of 2020. As for the future version of the 777, the 777X, its certification has again been postponed. to 2025 to meet regulatory requirements. “When you’re not producing, it’s hard to get orders,” Stan Deal said of the 787. With 51 planes delivered in June (including 43 MAX), Boeing still had its best month since March 2019. .
Not yet recovered from the pandemic and its own torments, the group is in failing health. It accumulated charges in the first quarter (war in Ukraine, renegotiation of the Air Force One presidential plane contract, etc.) and its debt amounted to nearly $58 billion at the end of March.
“Financially, the company is not at an existential risk,” reassures Michel Merluzeau, who believes that certain programs, particularly in the defense sector, will be profitable in the long term. This is, according to the expert, the case of the KC-46 military tanker or the MQ-25, future US Navy tanker drone. Boeing also has ambitions in the conquest of space. Its Starliner capsule, which is to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, passed a key test at the end of May after many adventures, but faces SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company.
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