Boeing to brief on 737 MAX updates as Ethiopian backs planemaker

ADDIS ABABA/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Boeing Co will brief more than 200 global airline pilots, technical experts and regulators this week on software and training updates for its 737 MAX aircraft, as Ethiopian Airlines expressed confidence in the planemaker despite a recent crash.

Africa’s biggest carrier will work with Boeing and other airlines to make air travel safer, its chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, said, after regulators this month grounded the worldwide fleet of the aircraft following the crash that killed 157 people.

“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” Tewolde said in a statement on Monday. “Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years.”

Qatar Airways, one of the largest Middle East carriers, also threw its support behind Boeing on Monday after two crashes since last October raised safety concerns about the 737 MAX.

The airline will however delay the April delivery of anotherMAX jet until the cause of the crash is known, Qatar Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker.

“I am sure that the aircraft will get back into the skies soon and that Boeing will get to the bottom of what happened and if there is something technical wrong that they will find a fix for it,” he said.

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices.

However, shares in Boeing have fallen 14 percent since the crash on March 10, wiping around $34 billion off the valuation of the company.

The session in Renton, Washington is part of an effort to reach all current, and many future, 737 MAX operators and their home regulators to discuss software and training updates to the jet, Boeing said in a statement.

A Boeing spokeswoman said the meeting formed part of a series of in-person information sessions.