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Boeing Might Halt 737 MAX Production if Grounding Drags On

Aerospace giant posts biggest-ever quarterly loss after taking $7 billion hit on grounding of best-selling jet

Boeing Co. said it might slow or halt production of its 737 MAX jetliner if regulators don’t approve its return to service by the end of this year.

The warning came as the aerospace giant on Wednesday reported its biggest quarterly loss to date, after taking an initial $7 billion hit on the grounding and slowed production of the MAX.

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Buyers of Boeing’s Newest Jet Fear Delays

Airlines prepare to keep older jets in fleet in case new 777X is late

SEOUL—Airlines are increasingly anxious that Boeing Co.’s BA -1.24% 777X long-haul jet will be delivered late—another potential setback for the embattled plane maker.

Emirates Airline, the largest customer for the 777X, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG DLAKY 0.59% , the biggest customer in Europe, are drawing up contingency plans in case the plane doesn’t arrive on the promised schedules, airline representatives said.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline—with orders for 150 of the planes and options to purchase 50 more—said the carrier may have to keep older model 777-300ERs in its fleet longer if the replacement aircraft isn’t ready. The first 777X test plane originally was due to fly in 2018. It has yet to take off.

Mr. Clark said the first flight is now planned for June 26. The delay could make it challenging for Boeing to meet the June 2020 delivery commitment of the first plane to Emirates Airline, he said.

A Lufthansa official said the German carrier is preparing to keep some of its older 747-400 jumbo jets that were due to be retired in its fleet longer if the 777X schedule slips. Using older, less fuel-efficient planes would add to the costs for carriers, which Boeing may have to cover under industry standard contract terms.

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You Need a Human Pilot When the Airplane’s Computers Fail

Boeing will fix the automation issues with the 737 MAX soon enough, but there will always be times when human pilots will be called on when computers and automation systems have failed them.

Regarding Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.’s “Boeing vs. Pilots?” (Business World, June 1): Without question, the failure of the pilots to deal with a malfunction was a major factor in both 737 MAX accidents. But in the accident chain, and it is almost always a chain of events that cause an airliner to crash, the root cause of both crashes was the failure of the automated flight-control system. As good as automation gets, it will never be flawless and there will be times when a properly trained and competent flight crew will be all that prevents disaster.

There are many examples in aviation history of pilot intervention averting catastrophe, but the most timely and profound is the “miracle on the Hudson.” The miracle was the skill, experience and coolly executed perfect judgment of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. All the automation in world could not have pulled off ditching an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River. Boeing will fix the automation issues with the 737 MAX soon enough, but there will always be times when human pilots will be called on when computers and automation systems have failed them.

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Korean Air to Operate Boeing 737 MAX When Regulators Clear Plane

The carrier was due to receive the first of 30 MAX planes in May before the crashes led to a global grounding of the MAX

SEOUL— Korean Air Lines Co.’s new Chairman Walter Cho said the carrier still plans to introduce the Boeing 737 MAX into its fleet after two fatal crashes that have idled the fleet.

Mr. Cho said Korean Air would start operating the Boeing plane as soon as regulators clear it to fly again. The carrier was due to receive the first of 30 MAX planes in May before the crashes led to a global grounding of the MAX.

Mr. Cho, who took over as chairman after the death of his father in April, said he also was looking to move forward with the planned replacement with fleet modernization plans. Purchase announcements could be “imminent,” he said, without specifying what aircraft he wants to replace. He also said Korean Air could buy additional Airbus A220 planes. The carrier has ordered 10 of the planes and started flying the aircraft last year.

Mr. Cho said the airline was happy with the performance of the plane, though the repair and maintenance support for the aircraft in Asia could use improvement.

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