A few weeks before the opening of the International Air Show at Le Bourget, scheduled for June 19, Boeing had invited the international press to Charleston (South Carolina), in the United States, its new production site entirely dedicated to its long-haul 787 Dreamliner. For this southern meeting, Tuesday, May 31, Dave Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, wanted to confirm the return to business of the American aircraft manufacturer after four years punctuated by disasters and disappointments.
The dark period began in 2019: two 737 Max medium-haul aircraft crashed, killing 346 passengers and crew members. Then it was the almost total shutdown of air transport with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Now that passenger traffic has returned to 90% of its pre-crisis level, Boeing assures “come back faster and stronger” than expected, said the CEO, even if the latter admits that the return to form can only be done in stages, “plane after plane”.
Indeed, after the two Max accidents, the American Federal Civil Aviation Agency (FAA) does not want to rush to give the green light to the two new versions of the medium-haul. “Max certification takes a considerable amount of time”soberly noted Mr. Calhoun.
Return of orders
The setback is unfortunate. Boeing will not be able to quickly regain the ground lost to Airbus. For four years, the European aircraft manufacturer has become the world number one in aeronautics at the expense of its American rival. It prances in the lead, with more than 63% market share in the medium-haul segment, the best-selling aircraft.
Realistically, Dave Calhoun acknowledged that “Boeing lost market share because it couldn’t deliver its planes.” Banned from flying in 2019 after the two air disasters, more than 400 copies of the 737 Max were piled up on the tarmacs next to Boeing’s production sites.
That era is over. Now, the Max has regained the favor of its customers. In early May, low-cost airline Ryanair placed a firm order for 150 of the larger version of the 737 Max, with an option for an additional 150 aircraft. A contract valued at 40 billion dollars (about 37 billion euros). Ryanair is far from the only returning customer. The American garners the orders. From the Farnborough Airshow, UK, in July 2022, “Boeing recorded 1,802 orders and delivered 790 aircraft”welcomed the aircraft manufacturer.
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