Boeing 737 MAX Timetable Uncertain As Regulators Continue Safety Review

28 2019 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville Calif

Boeing Co. secured the first new order in months for one of its grounded 737 Max planes in September, the company said on Tuesday, as it reported total deliveries for the first nine months of 2019 that were just half those a year ago.

Boeing's European rival, Airbus SE, has also been grappling with a weak market this year, with a total of only 127 net orders.

The lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Dallas County, Texas, alleges that Boeing "abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately misled its customers, pilots and the public about the true scope of design changes to the 737 MAX".

During the third quarter, Boeing sold only five 737 aircraft, and 118 so far this year.

It did say, however, that it booked the first order for a Max since April.

The preliminary investigations of the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airllines that killed 346 people zeroed in on a new automated control system with which pilots were unfamiliar. Boeing has repeatedly said it hopes to resume flights in the fourth quarter, which began on October 1.

Meanwhile, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency says it is still assessing proposed changes to Boeing software and has not found anything that would undermine hopes for a coordinated return to service.

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A spokesman for the aircraft maker said: "We continue to work with regulators on addressing their concerns and working through the process for certifying the 737 Max software and training updates and safely returning the airplane to service".

"We are very confident in that software solution, and we are now just marching through the final steps on certifying that, so that everybody's confident in the safety of the airplane", he said at a public appearance in NY.

The FAA reiterated on Tuesday that it does not have a firm date for completing its review.

Analysts are projecting much lower 2019 profits for Boeing following a big drop in sales.

Separately, a $50 million (40.9 million pounds) Boeing assistance fund that announced September 23 it would pay each family $144,500 in the two deadly crashes has already paid three of the five claims submitted to date, the fund's co-administrator, Camille Biros, told Reuters on Monday.

By the end of the year, Southwest Airlines passenger service will have been reduced by about 8% because of the MAX grounding, pilot income is based in part on the number of hours pilots fly. American Airlines Group and United Airlines have canceled 737 MAX flights through part of December.

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