Boeing announced Monday evening that it had withdrawn an application to the Federal Aviation Administration for a safety exemption concerning the 737 Max 7 following an issue with the aircraft’s anti-ice system. This development occurred several weeks after a 737 Max 9 experienced a near-mid-air catastrophe over Portland.
“We have informed the FAA that we are withdrawing our request for a time-limited exemption relating to the engine inlet deicing system on the 737-7,” Boeing said in a statement.
The planemaker continued: “While we are confident that the proposed time-limited exemption for that system follows established FAA processes to ensure safe operation, we will instead incorporate an engineering solution that will be completed during the certification process.”
Reuters first reported the withdrawal, which now complicates the scheduled timeline for certifying MAX 7 jets.
The withdrawal comes amid mounting pressure from Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, who called on the FAA to reject Boeing’s waiver for the yet-to-be-certified Max 7.
“While Boeing should never have sought this exemption to put another new aircraft with a known safety defect into service in the first place, I’m both relieved and appreciative that they are putting the flying public’s safety first by withdrawing this petition,” Duckworth said Monday.
She added: “I hope this decision marks the beginning of a turnaround in Boeing’s safety culture moving forward and I encourage the company to put its full focus into fixing the known safety flaw on the MAX 7 and other MAX aircraft that could lead to catastrophic consequences for passengers and crew.”
Bloomberg cited Wall Street analysts who expect Max 7 and Max 10 delays.
Less than a week ago, United Airline’s Chief Executive Scott Kirby told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on ‘Squawk Box’ that he is “disappointed” in Boeing’s ongoing manufacturing problems and the need for it to restore its previous reputation for quality.
“We pushed further and further to the right and already started working on alternative plans, and the Max 9 groundings are the straw that broke the camel’s back for us, and we’ll build a plan that doesn’t have the Max 10 in it,” Kirby told LeBeau.
What’s concerning is Boeing appears to have prioritized profits and stock buybacks over public safety.