A Boeing 737 aircraft is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton.
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A Boeing 737 aircraft is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

How does Boeing change the subject at the Paris Air Show?

All eyes will again be on Boeing when The Paris Air Show begins Monday. But the reasons will be different this year with the company's 737 Max planes still grounded after those two deadly crashes.

Reporter Carolyn Adolph joined KUOW’s Angela King to lay out the big issues facing Boeing at this huge aviation event.

The 737 Max now may not be cleared to fly until December – not summer, as had been expected. Why?

All these predictions are based on guesses and readings of the political winds at the Federal Aviation Administration. There is no date, so we just have to wait. This is serious -- 346 people are dead, and the revelations about this plane raise big questions about the MAX's design and execution. There are legal threats, and the Paris Air Show is supposed to be forward looking. So how will Boeing change the subject so they can have a good story to tell at Paris.

Boeing also faces a delayed rollout of the 777X -- that's got to hurt.

It is not going to be a good thing that's for certain. They were supposed to show that plane off to the world back in March, but a few days beforehand, the second 737 Max crashed. So Boeing didn't go ahead with that and they haven't flown the 777X officially yet. Barring any big change, they can't bring that plane to Paris -- nothing beautiful and new to show off. So again what does Boeing do to change the subject.

But Boeing is working on an idea for a new plane, right?

Yes, Boeing's been toying with the idea of a new middle of the market plane to compete head on with Airbus, which has had some huge successes with a fuel-efficient plane called the Neo. Now what if Boeing announced at last that it was going to go forward with this new plane? They could give it a name like, I don’t know … 797 … and maybe they could make that fresh new design scalable -- smaller or larger -- so that it could really serve the manufacturer in the future -- maybe even to replace the 737.

So will this be the year, will Paris be the place, that Boeing announces that it's going to go ahead with this new plane? A lot of people think maybe yes. But any new plane takes a huge amount of resources and commitment.

There's the competition between Airbus and Boeing. Will Airbus be the star of this year's Paris Air Show?

It certainly feels like that right now. I mean it's an anniversary year for Airbus. Fifty years since it was created, and here it's going up against a company that's double its age and is having some very prominent struggles. But Airbus has not been gloating -- it's a safety-bound industry. At this point, they just have to show up and smile.