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Boeing CEO: Decision to Use Simulators Pushes Back Return of 737 MAX

CEO Dave Calhoun says Boeing doesn't plan to cut its dividend despite the prolonged grounding of the 737 MAX jet.
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Boeing’s  (BA)  decision to push back the expected date for regulatory approval of service resumption for its 737 MAX jet stemmed from the company’s recommendation for pilots to undergo simulator training on the plane, according to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.

He also said the company hopes to resume production of the 737 MAX months before the authorized date for the aircraft to go back in the air, CNBC reported.

Calhoun also said the planemaker wouldn't cut its dividend despite the prolonged grounding of the 737 MAX jet.

Boeing shares fell 1.58% Wednesday to $308.41.

On Tuesday, the company announced that it doesn’t anticipate regulatory approval for service resumption until the middle of 2020. United Airlines said Wednesday that it doesn’t expect to fly the plane until this summer. The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes in 18 months killed 346 people.

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As for Tuesday’s decision by Boeing, “the trigger was a decision we made with the help of the board regarding simulator training and our recommendation to go down that path,” Calhoun said in a conference call with reporters, according to CNBC. “That was always going to elongate return to service.”

The company changed its stance on simulator training earlier this month, after previously saying that computer training would be enough to get pilots up to speed on flying the 737 MAX.

“This recommendation takes into account our unstinting commitment to the safe return of service as well as changes to the airplane and test results,” Boeing said in a statement announcing the change. “Final determination will be established by the regulators.”

The Federal Aviation Administration repeatedly has stressed there is no set schedule to get the 737 MAX back up in the air. And new problems with the 737 MAX have continuously surfaced during the FAA’s investigation.

The FAA said in a statement Tuesday that it’s pursuing “a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification standards,” noting that “we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed.”