Boeing invites industry members to 737 Max factory in charm offensive for beleaguered plane

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Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. After a pair of crashes, the 737 MAX has been grounded by the FAA and other aviation agencies since March, 13, 2019.

Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

Boeing is inviting airline industry members, experts and analysts to its facilities in the Seattle area this week, an effort to outline its plan to bring the beleaguered 737 Max back to service after two fatal crashes.

The manufacturer is scrambling to gain regulator approval to return the jets to the skies, a process it hopes to conclude before the end of the year, but regulators have publicly said several times that they don’t have a firm timeline.

The planes have been grounded since mid-March after two, nearly brand-new 737 Maxes crashed within a span of five months, killing 346 people.

Boeing on Tuesday and Wednesday will host the invitees, which don’t include the media, and hold briefings with executives, a visit to its aircraft delivery center and its Max production facility in Renton, Washington, according to an invitation that was seen by CNBC. The manufacturer offered to cover flight and hotel expenses, the invitation said.

It is the latest attempt by Boeing to gain support and rebuild public trust in the planes as the grounding enters its 10th month. Airlines have lost hundreds of millions of dollars and curbed their growth plans because of the grounding.

In addition to industry analysts, some invitees included representatives from flight attendant unions. The Association of Flight Attendants, the largest flight attendant union in the U.S., which represents cabin crews from United, Alaska Air and others, is sending a member, a spokeswoman said. Pilots and flight attendants will be key in reassuring the public about the planes after approval.

Flight-control software that was erroneously activated in both crashes prompted Boeing to develop a fix but government safety officials have not yet signed off on it.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is under fire for first approving the planes in 2017, will take the unusual step of reviewing each new 737 Max before they’re delivered to airline customers.

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