(Reuters) – Indonesia's airline Garuda plans to cancel a $ 6 billion order for the Boeing 737 MAX jets because some passengers say they would be afraid to board the plane after two fatalities, even if industry analysts said the deal long been in doubt.
In the United States, US airline pilots prepared to test the Boeing Co.'s planned software upgrade for an MAX simulator simulator system over the weekend and said they wanted their own security guarantees for the repair.
737 MAX was Boeing's fastest sales aircraft before a crash of Ethiopian Airlines near Addis Ababa on March 10, five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia.
Garuda is the first airline to publicly announce plans to scrape an order since the world's entire fleet of 737 MAX plans was founded last week.
"Many passengers told them they were afraid to come on a MAX 8," said Garuda CEO Ari Askhara to Reuters on Friday.
However, the airline had reconsidered its order for 49 of the narrow body jets before the Ethiopian crash, including possibly replacing some of the large-scale Boeing models.
Southeast Asia is facing a glut of narrow aircraft such as 737 MAX and rival Airbus A320neo at a time by slowing down global economic growth and high fuel costs.
"They have still looked at their fleet plan, so this is an opportunity to make some changes that might otherwise be difficult to do," said CAPA Center for Aviation Chief Analyst Brendan Sobie said.
Indonesia's Lion Air has also said it could interrupt the 737 MAX aircraft, but industry sources say it is also struggling to absorb the number of order plans.
Both crashes are still being investigated. But the regulators have noted some similarities between the two, and attention has focused on whether pilots had the right information on the "angle of attack" at which the wing cuts through the air.
No direct link has been proven between the crashes, which killed a total of 346 people.
Boeing is now planning to make compulsory light-duty pilots when sensor readings of the attack angle do not match ̵
Investigators suspect that an incorrect angle test led the convicted Lion Air jet computer to believe it had stopped, causing the aircraft's resistance system to be called MCAS, repeatedly pushing the nose on the plane.
Norwegian Air played down the significance of the mandatory light and said that according to Boeing, it would not have been able to prevent erroneous signals that the Lion Air pilots received before the new 737 MAX plane crashed in October.
The Lion Air planet did not have the warning light installed, and Ethiopian Airlines did not immediately comment on whether the crashed plane was attentive.
But the Ethiopian carrier, whose reputation along with Boeing's at stake, issued a statement on Friday that emphasizes the modernity of its security and training systems, with more than $ 500 million invested in infrastructure over the past five years.
The Ethiopian crash has abstained from one of the broadest requests in aviation history and cast a shadow over the Boeing 737 MAX model that is intended to be a standard for decades.
Boeing did not comment on the plan to make the safety function standard, but said separately that it is moving fast to make software changes and the expected upgrade is approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration in the coming weeks.
Chicago-based Boeing will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, officials t old Reuters.
Experts said it may take weeks or months to do, and for regulatory authorities to review and approve the changes. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said that they will make their own reviews of new systems.
Since the Ethiopian crash, the Boeing shares have fallen by 12% and $ 28 billion has been wiped away from the market value.
Pressure has been mounted on the company from US lawmakers, who are also expected to ask the FAA. The company is facing a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice.
Several lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of the victims of the Lion Air crash referring to the Ethiopian accident. Boeing refused to comment on the trials.