News Briefs – October 9, 2019

U.S. F-16 crashes in Germany, pilot OK

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed at about 3 p.m., Oct. 8 (local time) near Zemmer, Germany,during a routine training sortie.
The pilot ejected safely and has been recovered with minor injuries. The aircraft was assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.   
First responders are responding to the incident at this time.
A board of officers will investigate the accident.  Additional details will be provided as they become available. AP

20,000 U.S. troops to go to Europe for 2020 training exercise

The U.S. military says it’s preparing a massive exercise early next year in Europe involving 20,000 soldiers from the U.S., the largest deployment across the Atlantic for training in more than 25 years.
U.S. European Command said Oct. 7 the “Defender Europe 20” exercise from April to May 2020 will support NATO objectives “to build readiness within the alliance and deter potential adversaries.” Eighteen countries are expected to take part in exercises across 10 countries, including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia.
It will also involve 9,000 more Americans already stationed in Europe and 8,000 European troops.
The military says the exercise “confirms that the U.S. commitment to NATO and the defense of Europe remains ironclad.”
President Donald Trump has worried many NATO members with comments that the trans-Atlantic alliance is “obsolete.” AP

Southwest pilots’ union sues Boeing over grounding of plane

The union representing Southwest Airlines pilots is suing Boeing and calling the grounded 737 Max unsafe.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said in the lawsuit filed Oct. 7 that Boeing rushed the plane into service and misled pilots by saying it was little different than previous versions of the 737. The union says those claims turned out to be false.
The lawsuit filed in a Texas state court in Dallas is a blow to Boeing’s plan to restore public confidence in the plane, which remains grounded after two crashes that killed 346 people.
Boeing hopes to use pilots in a campaign to reassure travelers to fly on the plane once regulators approve changes that the company is making to a key flight-control system. Southwest in the biggest operator of Boeing 737s. AP

Boeing delivers just 26 planes in September, extending slump

Boeing’s troubles are deepening as the grounding of its 737 Max jetliner approaches the seven-month mark.
The aircraft maker reported Oct. 8 that its deliveries of airliners to customers in September plunged 70 percent from the level of a year earlier.
It did say, however, that it booked the first order for a Max since April. A company spokesman declined to identify the private buyer, who ordered a single jet.
Another order for two Max jets was canceled last month. In June, the parent of British Airways announced a commitment to buy 200 Max jets, but Boeing has not yet booked those orders, indicating that the deal isn’t final.
Boeing delivered 26 airliners in September, down from 87 a year earlier and trailing the 71 reported by its European rival Airbus. Over the first nine months of the year, Boeing delivered 302 airplanes, compared with 571 by Airbus.
The Max accounted for virtually the entire drop in Boeing shipments. Last month, the Chicago-based company delivered just two 737s — previous versions of the plane, not the Max — compared with 61 a year earlier, when it was ramping up Max production.
The 737 is a longtime airline favorite for short and medium routes, and the Max, which debuted in 2017, was designed to be a more fuel-efficient update. However, the Max has been grounded worldwide since mid-March after the second of two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.
Boeing is working to complete changes to the Max’s flight-control software and computers. The software, called MCAS, triggered nose-down pitches that pilots were unable to overcome in the two crashes. Boeing hopes to win Federal Aviation Administration approval to return the plane to flying this year. But many analysts and pilot-union leaders think 2020 is more likely. AP