The head of the Southwest Airlines Co pilot union sharply criticized Boeing Co and questioned whether the manufacturer was trying to speed up the timeline for the 737 MAX’s return to service.
Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX has been grounded since March, after two deadly crashes in five months killed 346 people, and it has come under harsh criticism from U.S. lawmakers.
Jon Weaks, who heads the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), said in a note to pilots Wednesday, reviewed by Reuters, that “Boeing is increasingly publicizing that they may have to shut down their production line due to running out of room to store completed MAX aircraft. There is some concern that this is simply another tactic to push the (return to service) timeline up.”
He added doing so would “force operators to resume making payments on MAX aircraft, and transfer some costs, logistics, and responsibilities of storing and restoring the MAX to revenue service to respective operators.”
On Monday, Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe told Reuters that “we expect the Max to be certified, airworthiness directive issued, ungrounded in mid-December.” He added that the company expects “pilot training requirements to be approved in January.”