BAE Systems Inc., which employs about 900 in Fort Wayne, supplies Boeing with parts for use on military and commercial aircraft worldwide.
In recent years, the British company invested about $40 million to construct a new aviation electronics manufacturing center near Fort Wayne International Airport. BAE operations moved into the new facility in 2015.
Production continued there Thursday, according to a source who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.
Kelly Golden, BAE spokeswoman, provided the following statement to The Journal Gazette by email:
“The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash remains under investigation. As a trusted supplier to Boeing on the 737 MAX, we stand ready to provide support and assistance to the investigation if needed.”
– Sherry Slater, The Journal Gazette
Aviation regulators worldwide laid down a stark challenge for Boeing to prove that its grounded 737 Max jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty software might have contributed to two crashes that killed 346 people in less than six months.
In a key step toward unearthing the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, flight recorders from the shattered plane arrived Thursday in France for analysis, although the agency in charge of the review said it was unclear whether the data could be retrieved. The decision to send the recorders to France was seen as a rebuke to the U.S.
Boeing executives announced that they had paused delivery of the Max, although the company planned to continue building the jets while it weighs the effect of the grounding on production.
In Addis Ababa, about 200 angry family members of crash victims left a briefing with Ethiopian Airlines officials, saying that the carrier has not given them adequate information. Officials said they have opened a call-in center that is available 18 hours a day to respond to questions. There were 157 people from 35 countries who died in the crash.
The Max jets are likely to be idle for weeks while Boeing tries to assure regulators around the world that the planes are safe.
At a minimum, aviation experts say, the plane maker will need to finish updating software that might have played a role in the Lion Air crash in October off Indonesia. Regulators will wait for more definitive evidence of what caused both crashes. Some industry officials think the plane maker and U.S. regulators may be forced to answer questions about the plane's design.
The company has previously characterized the software upgrades as an effort to make a safe plane even safer. Engineers are making changes to the system designed to prevent an aerodynamic stall if sensors detect that the jet's nose is pointed too high and its speed is too slow.
Satellite-based data showed that both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Both crews tried to return to the airport but crashed, killing everyone on board.
How long the planes stay grounded depends largely on what investigators find on the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, said Peter Goelz, a former managing director for the National Transportation Safety Board.
If the recorders indicate a manufacturing problem or a software glitch in the anti-stall system, the planes could stay on the tarmac for a long time.