Just months after returning to the skies, Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet is facing another setback.
Boeing said Friday that it had notified 16 airlines and other customers of a potential electrical problem with the Max and recommended that they temporarily stop flying some planes. The company refused to say how many planes were affected, but four U.S. airlines said they would stop using nearly 70 Max jets. Boeing would not say how long the planes would be sidelined.
Airlines and Boeing have tried hard in the last several months to convince passengers that the Max is safe. This latest problem is sure to spur further doubt among some travelers about the plane.
“It’s a Max, so everybody is interested and that makes perfect sense, but this is the aviation maintenance system working the way that it should,” said John Cox, a former airline pilot and crash investigator and chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, an aviation consulting firm.
Boeing said the affected airlines should verify that a component of the electrical power system on certain Max planes was sufficiently fastened. Airlines had resumed flying the jet after it was grounded for nearly two years because of a pair of accidents that killed nearly 350 people.
have complained of careless practices there in the past, including debris left dangerously close to electrical wiring of the 787 Dreamliner, a large plane used on long flights.
The families of those killed in the crashes have been critical of both Boeing and the F.A.A., saying neither has done enough to root out the problems that caused the crashes.
“Boeing proclaims to be a changed company, but it’s clear their culture is built around cutting corners and putting profits over safety,” Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband, Antoine, died in the crash in Ethiopia, said in a statement on Friday. “Since the deaths of 346 people, their sole focus has not been safety but to perform the bare minimum for regulators to allow it back in the air. This grounding illustrates that the Max is still unsafe to fly.”
After working to fix the Max and restore its credibility with airlines and regulators for much of the past two years, Boeing has been on an upswing in recent weeks. United said it was speeding up deliveries of the Max and expanding its order to 180 planes in the coming years. Europe and the United States agreed to temporarily suspend tariffs in a long-running dispute over Boeing and its rival Airbus. And February was the first month in more than a year in which Boeing reported net positive commercial airplane sales.
The company’s stock is up about 17 percent for the year.