By Natalie Kitroeff, Jack Nicas and Thomas Kaplan


Weeks following a deadly crash involving a Boeing plane in October, firm officials met separately with the pilot unions at Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The officials stated they planned to update the computer software for their 737 Max jets, the plane involved in the disaster, by about the finish of 2018.

It was the final time the Southwest pilots union heard from Boeing, and months later, the carriers are nonetheless waiting for a repair. Just after a second 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia, US regulators stated the computer software update would be prepared by April.

“Boeing was going to have a computer software repair in the subsequent 5 to six weeks,” stated Michael Michaelis, the major security official at the American Airlines pilots union and a Boeing 737 captain. “We told them, ‘Yeah, it can not drag out.’ And properly, right here we are.”

This delay is now element of the intense scrutiny more than Boeing’s response following the 1st air disaster, a Lion Air accident that killed 189 persons in Indonesia. The second crash, involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 persons, bore similarities to the 1st, pointing to possible troubles with the automated technique that needs the update.

The planned repair was “designed to detect the dilemma,” stated Jon Weaks, the president of Southwest’s pilot union, “and preserve it from recurring.” Boeing officials told Southwest union leaders that they didn’t think any further education was vital beyond informing the pilots of how the computer software repair would function.

The possible similarities involving the two crashes have been central to regulators’ selection to ground the complete 737 Max line, a family members of planes that has been in service for practically two years. Boeing is now in harm manage mode, as carriers cancel flights and attempt to limit disruptions. Boeing declined to comment for this write-up.

Along with the grounding, Boeing has been forced to halt deliveries of the jets, a single of its finest-promoting planes. To qualify to fly the plane, the pilots at American have been provided a 56-minute iPad education and about a dozen white papers on the variations involving the Max aircraft and earlier 737 jets, union officials stated.

Weaks of Southwest stated his members have been educated with an e-understanding module on a firm issued iPad that consisted of beneath 3 hours of video presentations about the variations involving the Max and an earlier Boeing plane.

Each Southwest and American now say they anticipate to have simulators like the 737 Max systems by the finish of this year. At least American ordered the simulator following the Lion Air crash.

The meetings final year involving Boeing officials and the unions have been cordial but direct. The pilots from Southwest and American who met with Boeing have been frustrated that they hadn’t been notified of the newly installed computer software technique in the 737 Max planes ahead of the crash in Indonesia. The maneuvering qualities augmentation technique, or MCAS, is an automated technique intended to avert the plane from stalling.

“It was a pretty frank discussion,” stated Michaelis, the union’s security chairman. “This is to our information the 1st time pilots have been not informed of a important technique on an airplane that could have an effect on flight controls.”

The pilots demanded far more information and facts about the technique. In response to the pilots’ request, Michaelis stated, Boeing concurred.

The firm has considering the fact that supplied the American pilots with simple information and facts about MCAS, but it hasn’t updated the manual with a complete explanation about how it functions. The 3 American airlines that operate 737 Max aircraft — American &amp Southwest operate Max 8s and United f lies the Max 9 — have scrambled to limit any disruptions triggered by the groundings.

The airlines have shifted other offered aircraft to replace the jets, canceled significantly less common flights to use these aircraft for busier Max routes, and rebooked some flyers on other airlines.

Cancellations will differ by the day primarily based on the availability of other aircraft. There have been nonetheless some 737 Max jets flying in American skies on Thursday. The FAA granted the airlines permission to ferry their empty Max jets to new airports for extended-term parking. American flew its planes from Miami, New York and Tampa, Florida, to areas like Tulsa, Oklahoma, Orlando, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama.