Boeing 737 Max operators to meet as regulators mull jet’s return

Boeing Co. 737 Max planes (Bloomberg pic)

DALLAS: Airlines that use Boeing Co.’s 737 Max will meet next week to discuss the grounded plane’s eventual return to service, just as global regulators gather to talk about the steps needed to allow the plane to fly again.

The International Air Transport Association is organizing the airline event in Montreal on May 23, according to an email Wednesday from the trade group. That’s the same day that the US Federal Aviation Administration will host about 50 foreign counterparts in Texas to discuss plans for reviewing a software update and new pilot training for the Max.

‘The meeting will provide a forum for airlines to exchange information about the experiences and challenges that they face as a result of the grounding and in their preparation for the reintroduction of the aircraft into operations,’ IATA said.

The simultaneous gatherings herald a new phase for Boeing’s push to get its best-selling jet back in the skies after two devastating crashes in a five-month span. The US planemaker is finalizing changes to software implicated in both accidents, and the FAA said it expects to receive the update as soon as next week. The Max has been grounded for two months.

Of IATA’s 290 member airlines, 28 have the Max in their fleet, the trade group said. Southwest Airlines Co., the largest operator of the model, said it would attend next week’s meeting. The Max debuted two years ago as the newest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737.

The IATA event is for airlines only but will include updates from the FAA and Boeing. IATA’s board of governors will receive a summary of the meeting, but no public press release is planned, the group said.

IATA will hold its annual meeting in Seoul on June 1.