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Boeing's Hopes for NDAA Addition Dashed

Cockpit Alert System Requirements May Apply to Unreleased 737 MAX Models, After All

Boeing's rough go of things with the 737 MAX continues, after their desired legislation failed to be included in the upcoming omnibus spending bill. 

Boeing hoped that it could finagle an extension for cockpit alert requirements that would force a change in the company's upcoming aircraft, surprising industry pundits with a move that could cause some unsatisfactory knock-on effects in the domestic narrowbody market. The firm's 737 MAX series of aircraft already has numerous MAX-8s and -9s flying throughout the system with two new variants, the upcoming MAX-7 and MAX-10, yet to be released. Boeing had hoped the new requirement for certain cockpit alerting systems would be deferred, or waived so their lineup of MAX aircraft could have an element of standardization across each variant.

Many had felt quite comfortable with the idea that an extension would be appended to the NDAA bill, like Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan. The airline, a longtime proponent of the 737, has a number of MAX-7 aircraft on order already, leading them to hope for the simplest, easiest solution to the issue of standardization across all Boeing MAX aircraft. He seemed quite sure it would happen, telling investors "Boeing will get the extension" during a recent investor conference.

Boeing exec David Calhoun felt the same, remarking that the company would lean heavily on the safety aspects of the extension. 

As things stand now, without the extension, Boeing has a nail-biter on its hands, with jobs at stake, orders further delayed for the upcoming jets, resurgent airline demand, and uncertain economic tides all combining to a stressful combination. While the extension doesn't appear to be in the cards for the company, they aren't entirely paddle-less up this legislative creek. Senator Maria Cantwell, of the Senate Commerce Committee, has prompted a compromise that would lift the deadline requirement for the 2 MAX models in exchange for a number of safety improvements. While they have not yet gotten too far, the MAX debacle has continued to grate throughout Capitol Hill as lawmakers push - or are pushed - further into the realm of nitty-gritty flight deck regulation. 



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