Boeing halts test flights of new plane over engine issue

Boeing Falls Following Cautious 737 MAX Flight Suspensions

737 Max jetliner flights have been temporarily suspended by Boeing over a possible manufacturing flaw in the engines.

Despite the setback on the eve of Boeing's first delivery, Safran said it had overtaken rival Pratt & Whitney as the engine supplier for most Airbus A320neo-family jets now in service and outlined new production techniques created to speed output.

The four aircraft Boeing 737 MAX flight test fleet and more than 15 production aircraft destined for customer delivery will now undergo thorough inspection before being cleared for flights. Boeing shares fell 1.3 percent to $183.15 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

CFM International, a joint venture between General Electic and French engineers Safran, alerted Boeing to a "potential manufacturing quality escape with low pressure turbine disks in (the) LEAP-1B engines" that it delivered.

Boeing said the grounding has also halted aerial tests of the 737 Max 9, the second of four now planned models. In the meantime, production will continue using discs from other CFM suppliers, he said. It will take about a week for each engine and Safran is putting in place resources to handle several at once, Andries said. Southwest Airlines Co, the launch customer for the new aircraft, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Boeing states that the Max 9 will become the "backbone" of the airline during its expansion and says the carrier will use the type's auxiliary fuel tanks to "maximise" the aircraft's range and fly routes to the U.S. east coast. Malaysia's Malindo Air plans to be the first airline to fly the new plane, starting before July.

According to a tweet from CNN Aviation Editor, Jon Ostrower, all affected engines will have to be returned to CFM in Lafayette, Ind. or Villaroche, France to undergo investigation.

The 737 Max has accumulated 3,714 orders before its commercial debut.

"Late-stage discoveries occur on many new aircraft and engine programs, and the cost impact historically has tended to be low to immaterial in our experience", said Harry Breach, analyst at wealth management firm Raymond James.

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