Boeing Sells First 737 Max Planes Since Deadly Crashes Grounded Entire Fleet

Business Chicago News

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Boeing has made its first sale of 737 Max planes since the aircraft were grounded after two fatal crashes linked to software problems.

At the Paris Air Show, the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer announced International Airlines Group – owner of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and other European airlines – has signed a letter of intent for an order of 200 of the jets.

It’s the first sale of 737 Max aircraft since regulators worldwide grounded the planes amid an investigation into the crash of a deadly 737 Max crash in Ethiopia in March and another in Indonesia last October.

New flight software played a role in both crashes, and Boeing is awaiting FAA approval of a software fix to get the planes in the air again.

The order of 737 Max planes is a shift for International Airlines Group, which almost exclusively flies aircraft from rival Airbus for its single-aisle jets.

The letter of intent is subject to final agreement, but is a vote of confidence in Boeing as it struggles to win back trust from airlines, pilots, regulators and the traveling public.

The combination of 737-Max 8 and 737-Max 10 planes would cost $24 billion at list prices, though companies usually strike deals for discounts. The planes would be delivered between 2023 and 2027 to airlines owned by IAG.

IAG expressed optimism that regulators will allow amended Max jets to fly again soon. But it’s unclear when that will be, notably for regulators outside the U.S.

The Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes killed 346 people. Boeing executives started off the Paris Air Show on Monday with a sweeping apology to victims’ families and airlines.

Analysts had predicted that Boeing might try to announce some Max orders at the air show to demonstrate that the plane – one of Boeing’s most popular models – still has support.

Boeing depends heavily on the aircraft and has said it is costing at least $1 billion to address problems with the troubled jet. But the company has struggled to get a handle on the Max controversy.

The CEO says Boeing botched communication with regulators and is promising more transparency.

After lackluster sales in recent months, Boeing’s orders picked up Tuesday. It announced a deal with Korean Air and Air Lease Corporation for a total of 30 long-range 787 jets, worth $6.3 billion at list prices.

European rival Airbus also announced several orders Tuesday. Before announcing its Boeing Max deal, industry powerhouse IAG signed a firm order with Airbus for new A321XLR long-range jets, for its airlines Aer Lingus and Iberia.

Airbus also reported sales to Delta Air Lines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Atlantic Airways, and announced a feasibility study for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that could shuttle visitors to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Both Airbus and Boeing face a slowing economy that tempered the mood at the air show .

The companies, along with other manufacturers, came together Tuesday to promise more investment in reducing aviation emissions even as global air travel is expected to rise significantly in the decades to come.

Plane makers are under increased pressure from regulators and passengers concerned about climate-damaging emissions. They are looking at hybrid, electric or hydrogen technology to eventually replace existing fuel.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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