Boeing apologizes for Max crashes as Airbus rakes in sales

Boeing apologizes for Max crashes as Airbus rakes in sales

Boeing executives spent the first day of this year's gathering apologising for the two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX 8 aircraft which killed 346 people in five months.

Another 737 Max 8, operated by Lion Air, crashed into the Java Sea on October 29 shortly after liftoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

Airbus officials avoided directly attacking arch-rival Boeing at a news conference ahead of the world's largest air show as the United States company's competing 737 MAX remains grounded for a third month.

Speaking on Sunday before the Paris Air Show, Muilenburg told reporters that Boeing engineers learned in 2017 that a warning light in the cockpit of its top-selling Max, created to alert pilots when the two angle-of-attack sensors disagreed, didn't work as intended. Boeing has already presented software updates for the MCAS system and is waiting for regulators to approve the fix.

Muilenburg called the crashes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jets a "defining moment" for Boeing, but said he thinks the result will be a "better and stronger company". The sensors malfunctioned, alerting anti-stall software to push the noses of the planes down.

After the Ethiopian crash, Boeing's fleet of 737 MAX planes were grounded.

Boeing is targeting a maiden flight this year and 2020 entry into service, but Gulf airline Emirates has said it expects the first plane in June of that year. The pilots were unable to take back control of the planes.

"This is the most trying of times", Boeing commercial airplanes boss Kevin McAllister told a press briefing.

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Boeing and the FAA said the warning light was not critical for flight safety.

"We will take the time necessary" to ensure the Max is safe, he said.

Many pilots' representatives have criticized Boeing for not giving them enough information about the system before putting the planes into operation.

Mr Muilenburg said restoring trust in the MAX was Boeing's top priority ahead of an upgraded 777 and work on its upcoming NMA long-range jet. But Airbus has outpaced Boeing in selling planes in this category.

The airliner, set to be rolled out in 2023, has an "unprecedented" long range of up to 4,700nm (nautical miles), Airbus said.

Boeing is working on the design of a new mid-size plane that would compete with Airbus's A321XLR, but has put these plans on the back burner while it sorts out the problems with its 737 fleet.

Several manufacturers are presenting unmanned aircraft at the Paris Air Show, primarily for military purposes - and some are also proposing pilotless "air taxis" of the future.

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