GREG LOWER

Kansas aviation manufacturers heard hopeful news Tuesday that the Boeing 737 Max may fly again.

Chanute Regional Development Authority Director Matt Godinez told Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday about signs that the Federal Aviation Administration may soon lift its order to ground the plane. Orizon Aerostructures in Chanute and Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita supply components for the plane.

Boeing made changes to the plane after two crashes killed 346 people. A flight-control system, new to the Max, pushed the nose of both planes down based on faulty readings from sensors.

The FAA said Tuesday that it plans to issue a proposed airworthiness directive for the Boeing 737 MAX in the “near future,” Reuters news service reported.

Reuters also said the FAA is unlikely to lift its order to ground the aircraft before sometime in October. Boeing Company has said it expects to resume deliveries before Sept. 30 following regulatory approval.

The top-selling aircraft was grounded in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia and the crisis has cost Boeing more than $18 billion.

The FAA will allow 45 days for public comment on the changes to the plane and to pilot-training programs, but a “number of key steps remain” before passengers are allowed back on the jets. Separately, regulators from the US, Canada, Europe and Brazil will review proposed minimum training requirements.

“We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards,” the FAA said in a statement.

Spirit AeroSystems sent employees notices Friday about voluntary layoffs, citing the impacts of both the 737 Max grounding and the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement follows months of layoffs and furloughs in the aviation industry. 

Within the past two weeks, American Airlines speculated it may cancel orders for 60 planes.

 

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