Aerospace & Defense

Boeing CEO says return of 737 Max was delayed further because it recommended pilot simulator training

Key Points
  • Boeing does not expect its grounded 737 Max to return to service until June or July.
  • "That was always going to elongate return to service," Dave Calhoun said of the decision to use simulator training.
  • Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member, became the new CEO of the aerospace giant earlier this month.
Two workers walk under the wing of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, March 27, 2019.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun on Wednesday said the company's recommendation that pilots should undergo simulator training for the 737 Max prompted its decision to push back its timeline for when it expects the plane to return to service.

"The trigger was a decision we made with the help of the board regarding simulator training and our recommendation to go down that path," Calhoun said on a conference call with reporters. "That was always going to elongate return to service."

Boeing executives have told suppliers and airline customers that it doesn't foresee regulators lifting a flight ban on the 737 Max until June or July, months later than originally expected. The timeline, first reported by CNBC on Tuesday, sent Boeing's stock down more than 3% that day.

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Boeing CEO: 737 Max production to resume 'months' before return to service

The company recommended the simulator training earlier this month, marking a sharp change from its previous expectations that computer training would be sufficient.

"This recommendation takes into account our unstinting commitment to the safe return of service as well as changes to the airplane and test results," Boeing said in a statement announcing the recommendation. "Final determination will be established by the regulators."

Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member, officially took the chief executive role at the aerospace giant earlier this month. Former CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who was in charge of the company during the two deadly crashes involving the 737 Max, was fired in December.

The extended grounding of the Boeing jet has led to airlines canceling flights and put stress on the company's suppliers. United Airlines said Wednesday that it did not expect to have the Max back in time for the summer travel season, a key period for airlines.