“It is hard not to conclude your team at the F.A.A. has deliberately attempted to keep us in the dark,” Roger Wicker, the Republican chairman of the Commerce Committee, told Mr. Dickson. Senator Maria Cantwell, the committee’s top Democrat, meanwhile, described the agency’s communication and oversight as “fragmented.”
The Max crisis has dealt a devastating blow to Boeing’s business. In January, the company estimated that costs associated with the grounding will exceed $18 billion, but that was before the disastrous spread of the coronavirus. The three carriers in the United States that operate the Max — Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines — have canceled thousands of flights in recent months. At Air Canada, some pilots who were licensed to fly the Max but not other planes in the carrier’s fleet, had to stop flying after the grounding.
So far this year, Boeing has seen net orders for the Max decline by more than 300 jets, with thousands remaining, amid industrywide belt-tightening as the coronavirus pandemic has ground most air travel to a halt. In April, Southwest, Boeing’s largest single customer for the Max, said it had more than halved the number of the jets it would take this year and next, to just 48.
Boeing’s sales, profit and share price have slumped in recent months. In Renton, Wash., Boeing continues to produce the Max, though at a slower pace. With the planes grounded, Boeing has not been able to deliver the new planes, and instead is stockpiling them.
Spirit Aerosystems, a key Boeing supplier, said this month that Boeing had slashed an order for fuselage parts, cutting its request to 72 shipsets from 216 earlier this year. The aviation slowdown coupled with a recovery that could take years has led Boeing to cut about 10 percent of its work force, or about 16,000 jobs worldwide.
“The global pandemic has changed the way we live and work,” Boeing’s chief executive, David L. Calhoun, said in a note to staff in April. “It is changing our industry. We are facing utterly unexpected challenges.”