Ethiopian Airlines to resume Boeing 737 Max flights nearly three years after crash that left 157 dead

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Ethiopian Airlines announced Monday that it will resume Boeing 737 Max flights in February, nearly three years after a crash left 157 people dead. 

"Safety is our top most priority at Ethiopian Airlines and it guides every decision we make and all actions we take," Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said Monday. 

"We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous recertification process and we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet."

A Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The Boeing 737 Max was grounded in March 2019 after a plane crashed six minutes into a flight from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, killing everyone on board. 

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Five months before that, a Boeing 737 Max operated by Indonesia's Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. 

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, in this April 24, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

The Federal Aviation Administration greenlit the planes to resume service in November 2020 after a "comprehensive and methodical" 20-month review process, as well as numerous Congressional hearings. 

The crashes were caused by a software problem with the planes' Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The new software requires inputs from two sensors instead of just one, and will not override pilot controls. 

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Boeing agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the two crashes in January. The money will go to crash victims' families, airline customers, and a fine. 

In this Dec. 16, 2019, photo, a worker looks up underneath a Boeing 737 MAX jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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Shares of Boeing stock are flat on the year, but up 8% this month after Chinese regulators cleared the 737 Max to fly again on Dec. 2. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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