Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg made a bold promise to travelers last Thursday.
When the grounded Boeing 737 Max planes return to the skies after a software fix due within weeks, they will be “among the safest planes ever to fly,” he said.
“We remain confident in the fundamental safety of the 737 Max,” Muilenburg said in a video accepting blame for Boeing’s role in two fatal Max 8 crashes in five months.
Skittish travelers will likely need more convincing, presenting a major challenge to airlines including Southwest, American and United when the planes return to their flight schedules.
Already, some are questioning Boeing’s confidence in the plane.
“737 Max is a super safe aircraft as long as it’s on the ground,” one Twitter user responded after Muilenburg posted a snippet of his video Thursday.
Another said, “I won’t ride in a plane that requires special software to keep it from stalling.” An anti-stalling system has been implicated in both crashes.
Airlines won’t talk about their marketing plans for reintroducing the Max since there is no timeline for its return given the ongoing crash investigations and the software fix, which requires the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration and additional pilot training. And on Friday, not unexpectedly, Boeing said it is temporarily slowing the production of its 737 line.
There’s a lot of work ahead to convince travelers the plane is safe since the 737 Max has become a household word and is tainted in so many travelers’ minds.
No carrier is more aware of the looming challenge than Ethiopian Airlines, though the concern among its customers will be magnified given the March 10 Max 8 crash that killed 157.