Coverage by Chris Sloan, Written by James Field

PARIS – Boeing began its time at the airshow, not with an order but with a business update.

The update itself began with a briefing on the 737MAX, which has been the talk of the town, even before the airshow actually began.

The manufacturer’s Greg Smith said in the briefing that it is a ‘tragedy’ that ‘weighs on all of us’. The safe priority of the MAX is number one as mentioned by Smith himself.

He continued: “We’re supporting a number of independent reviews. We’re supporting our airline customers during this challenging time and working to return fleet back to service while working with the supply chain. We’re mindful of restoring customer, passengers, and crews trust.”

Kevin McAllister, the CEO of the Commercial wing stated that Boeing is “very sorry because of the loss of lives in the Ethiopian and Lion Air accidents. Safety is sacred and a top priority of what we do. This is the most trying of times in the industry in my 30 years. It’s the most pivotal time”.

McAllister mentioned that the newly updated services to MCAS has three pillars of protection, which has supposedly worked on the over 280 test flights flown and the enhanced training produced.

“We are making solid progress to unground the MAX. Our regulators will decide and I won’t speculate on a date. We will treat each aeroplane as an entry into service and get it right”, he added.

Moving away from the MAX, there was talk over the 777X and also the new NMA (Near Mid-Market Aircraft).

Mr McAllister mentioned that the 777X is “making steady progress with two frames complete”.

He has said that any lessons learned out of the 737MAX will also be focused on during the development of this larger aircraft.

“The 777X will be a terrific aeroplane to replace twin aircraft and grow new markets”, he commented.

It doesn’t look like the NMA will be publicly announced this week, with the manufacturer focusing on the business class element of the aircraft. “If we move forward, it will offer twin-aisle comfort at single-aisle economics”.  

It remains clear that in this case, Boeing is definitely focusing this airshow on damage control over the 737MAX, as expected, but also rightly so.

For the manufacturer to announce the NMA prematurely would be definitely seen as rash and also as a distraction away from the issues with the MAX.