Southwest Union Sues Over 737 Max; More Delays Reported

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
Photo by AP Photo/David Koenig via Newscred

A union representing pilots for Southwest Airlines has sued Boeing over the company’s 737 Max aircraft, while reports of friction between regulators in the European Union (EU) and United States could mean further delay in the aircraft’s return to service. 

In a written statement the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) said that it has filed a lawsuit against Boeing, alleging that the aircraft manufacturer deliberately misled the organization and its pilots regarding the 737 Max. According to the lawsuit, SWAPA pilots “agreed to fly the 737 Max aircraft based on Boeing’s representations that it was airworthy and essentially the same as the timetested 737 aircraft that its pilots have flown for years. These representations were false.”

Since the aircraft was grounded following a pair of deadly crashes on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, Southwest has been forced to eliminate more than 30,000 scheduled flights, reducing passenger service by 8 percent by the end of 2019, according to statistics cited by the union. 

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Meanwhile, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, a disagreement between U.S. and EU regulators could further delay the aircraft’s return to service. According to the report, EU regulators recently told regulators in the U.S. that they weren’t satisfied that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing had adequately demonstrated the safety of the software updates to the Max’s flight control computers. At issue is a new system in which two flight computers would work together, with the aim of eliminating errors stemming from possible chip malfunctions; EU regulators reportedly want more testing scenarios than are being conducted by Boeing and the FAA. Publicly, however, a spokesperson for the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said “we do not have any specific concerns that would lead to the conclusion” that the agency is avoiding a coordinated response with the FAA. 

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