Boeing’s 737 Max 8 and 9 planes will be grounded for weeks if not longer until a software upgrade can be tested and installed, US lawmakers said on Thursday as officials in France prepare to begin analyzing the black boxes from a jet that crashed in Ethiopia.
Boeing said on Thursday it was pausing deliveries of its flagship 737 Max aircraft following the grounding.
Investigators in France will be seeking clues into Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash after take-off from Addis Ababa killed 157 people from 35 nations in the second such calamity involving Boeing’s plane since October.
Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers, and left the world’s biggest plane maker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.
US Representative Rick Larsen said after a briefing with US aviation officials the software upgrade would take a few weeks to complete, and installing it on all aircraft would take “at least through April.”
He said additional training would also have to take place. Relatives of the dead stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.
Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 737Max models in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching planes.
Another nearly 5,000 Max jets are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry. Moody’s rating agency said the fallout from the crash would not immediately affect Boeing’s credit rating.