Boeing’s first Starliner crewed mission tentatively slated for 2021

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Tuesday it aims to redo its unmanned Starliner crew capsule flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) in December or January, depending on when it completes software and test hardware production development.

If the test mission is successful, Boeing and NASA will fly Starliner’s first crewed mission in summer 2021, with a post-certification mission roughly scheduled for the following winter, the company added.

Boeing is eager for another shot at proving its crew capsule after technical failures put the aerospace juggernaut behind Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, which successfully returned its rival crew capsule from the ISS earlier this month.

During Boeing’s first uncrewed test, in December 2019, a series of software glitches and an issue with the spacecraft’s automated timer resulted in Starliner failing to dock at the space station and returning to Earth a week early.

In February, a NASA safety review panel found Boeing had narrowly missed a “catastrophic failure” in the botched test, and recommended examining the company’s software verification process before letting it fly humans to space.

Earlier this month, Boeing watched from the sidelines as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico after a two-month voyage to the International Space Station – NASA’s first crewed mission from home soil in nine years.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

Boeing to offer second layoff plan, CEO Calhoun sees smaller market ahead

By Bhargav Acharya

(Reuters) – Boeing Co. said on Monday it would offer employees a voluntary layoff package with pay and benefits for the second time this year, as the plane maker battles a coronavirus-induced slowdown in global air travel.

It will be offered to employees in the commercial airplanes and services businesses as well as corporate functions, Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun wrote in a note to employees, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

“Unfortunately, layoffs are a hard but necessary step to align to our new reality, preserve liquidity and position ourselves for the eventual return to growth,” Calhoun said in the note.

“We anticipate seeing a significantly smaller marketplace over the next three years.”

The health crisis, which has hammered plane makers, airlines and suppliers, has added to the woes of Boeing that has been grappling with a production freeze and year-long grounding of the 737 MAX following two fatal crashes.

The company doesn’t have a set target at this time and was encouraging all eligible employees interested in the voluntary layoff package to apply, Boeing said in a statement.

The move to extend the overall workforce reductions beyond the initial 10% target is in response to employee feedback, Calhoun said.

The plane maker had said in April it would cut its 160,000-person workforce by about 10%, many of which was to be completed by the end of this year at its commercial aircraft division.

More details will be made available to the employees beginning Aug. 24, according to the CEO’s note.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Boeing cuts output of big jets as pandemic hammers sales

By Ankit Ajmera and Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) – Boeing Co <BA.N> slashed production on its widebody programs, delayed the arrival of its newest jet, and confirmed the demise of its iconic 747, as it reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. planemaker, which is also grappling with the 16-month-old ban on its 737 MAX after fatal crashes, delayed its timeline to hit build rates of 31 narrowbodies monthly to early 2022 from 2021, as the pandemic decimates new jet demand.

The production cuts reflect concern among aviation companies across the board about the pace of the coronavirus recovery. Global airlines warned on Tuesday it would take a year longer than expected for air traffic to return to normal levels, with long-range travel hit harder than short hops.

The outbreak has crippled passenger travel and pushed major airlines to the brink of bankruptcy, resulting in many carriers deferring aircraft deliveries.

Boeing also confirmed the last 747, the iconic hump-topped jumbo jet that democratized global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft, would roll out of its Seattle-area factory in around two years.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said the Chicago-based company was working closely with airlines and suppliers to manage a COVID-19 recovery process that could take three years.

“Air travel has always proven to be resilient – and so has Boeing,” Calhoun added.

The 737 MAX grounding has cost Boeing some $20 billion, ousted executives, halted production and hobbled its supply chain, with criminal and congressional investigations and lawsuits still ongoing.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated this crisis.

Boeing will now reduce 787 production to six jets a month in 2021 – a third rate drop from a year ago, when it was producing the Dreamliners at a record monthly rate of 14 planes.

Boeing also said it would again reduce the combined production rate of the 777 and 777X jets to two planes per month in 2021, while delaying the 777X’s entry into service by up to a year, as Reuters previously reported.

Boeing’s commercial airplanes operating profit was hit by $845 million in abnormal production costs on 737 and factory closures related to COVID-19 fears. Boeing also logged $468 million in severance expenses related to reducing its roughly 160,000 workforce by 10%, saying on Wednesday deeper cuts were possible.

“We’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce,” Calhoun told employees in a memo on Wednesday.

While Calhoun said the 737 MAX certification process was proceeding well, investors on an analyst call will be waiting for any signal that Boeing would push back the already delayed timeline for resuming MAX deliveries beyond end-September. That means the jet’s U.S. return to service could slip to 2021.

“The plethora of downside risks are not fully reflected in Boeing’s current share price,” Vertical Research Partners analyst Rob Stallard said, noting that clearing an inventory of some 400 built MAX aircraft could take longer than expected.

Shares were down 1.1%.

On an adjusted basis, Boeing lost $4.79 per share, bigger than analysts’ average estimate of a loss of $2.54, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company’s sales tumbled 25% to $11.81 billion in the quarter, missing estimates of $13.16 billion.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)

Ukrainian FM says Iranians to discuss crash compensation in Ukraine

WARSAW (Reuters) – An Iranian delegation will visit Ukraine on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss compensation for a Ukrainian jet shot down by Iran on Jan. 8, the Ukrainian foreign minister said on Monday.

Iranian forces say they downed the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 jet on Jan. 8 after mistaking it for a missile amid heightened tensions with the United States. All 176 people on board – including 57 Canadians – were killed.

“Given the circumstance of what happened, there are all reasons to ask from Iran to pay the highest price for what it did,” Dmytro Kuleba, speaking in English, told a news conference during a visit to the Polish capital Warsaw.

Kuleba said Ukraine would represent all countries and groups affected during the talks.

“I cannot disclose final numbers of the compensation … numbers will be the result of the consultations,” he said.

The aircraft was shot down hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the U.S. drone killing of a senior Iranian commander.

The data extraction from the recovered black boxes is being carried out with an Iranian investigator and observed by Canadian, U.S., Swedish and British experts and representatives from UIA, Boeing and engine maker Safran.

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Alison Williams and Philippa Fletcher)

FAA issues emergency directive on 2,000 Boeing 737 NG, Classic planes

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday issued an emergency airworthiness directive for 2,000 U.S.-registered Boeing 737 NG and Classic aircraft that have been in storage, warning they could have corrosion that could lead to a dual-engine failure.

The directive covers planes not operated for seven or more consecutive days. The FAA issued the directive after inspectors found compromised air check valves when bringing aircraft out of storage.

If corrosion is found, the valve must be replaced prior to the aircraft’s return to service, the FAA said.

Boeing Co. said on Friday it had advised operators to inspect the planes and added “with airplanes being stored or used infrequently due to lower demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the valve can be more susceptible to corrosion.”

U.S. airlines stored thousands of airplanes after the coronavirus pandemic sharply reduced travel demand and some have been bringing some aircraft back into service as demand rises.

The directive covering the 737 NG (600 to 900 series) and 737 Classic (737-300 to 737-500 series) was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns caused by engine bleed air 5th stage check valves stuck in the open position.

The FAA said the directive is to address corrosion of the engine bleed air 5th stage check valves for both engines. The agency said that could result in compressor stalls and dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart.

Boeing said it is providing inspection and replacement information to fleet owners if they find an issue.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, two large U.S. operators of the 737, said they had not experienced the issues described in the directive. United Airlines said it is complying with the directive and does not anticipate an impact on operations.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)

End of the jumbo: British Airways retires 747 early due to coronavirus crisis

By Sarah Young, Maria Ponnezhath and Tim Hepher

(Reuters) – British Airways, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747’s, will retire its entire jumbo jet fleet with immediate effect after the COVID-19 pandemic sent air travel into free fall.

For over 50 years, Boeing’s “Queen of the Skies” has been the world’s most easily recognized jetliner with its humped fuselage and four engines. But its days were already numbered before the pandemic struck earlier this year.

British Airways (BA) had been planning to retire the aircraft in 2024, but with passenger numbers decimated this year, and experts forecasting it will be years before they recover, the airline said it was unlikely its 747’s would operate commercially again.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” BA said in a statement on Thursday.

The 747 democratized global air travel in the 1970’s, but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft and now trails newer planes in fuel efficiency, making it expensive to run.

The move by BA comes after Australia’s Qantas Airways said in June it would retire its remaining 747 fleet immediately, six months ahead of schedule.

BA’s predecessor airline BOAC first introduced the 747 on the London-New York route in 1971 after a one-year delay caused by a dispute with pilots over the terms for flying the new jet.

Hugh Dibley, a former BOAC captain and racing driver who joined the airline in 1958, said the 747’s introduction marked a new era, but was beset with teething problems with its engines.

Landing and taxiing also took some getting used to, from a cockpit positioned almost 30 feet above the ground – or more when angling the nose higher just before touching the runway.

“It was a delight to fly as it was so stable. The initial issue was its height from the ground. It was like landing a block of flats from the 2nd floor,” Dibley told Reuters.

BA’s jumbos are the 747-400 model, the most-sold version of the jet which was introduced in 1989. After BA, only a handful of airlines including Rossiya Airlines and Air China continue to operate them, according to Cirium data.

A newer version, the 747-8, was designed to refresh the brand and counter Airbus’s A380, but has mainly prospered as a freighter and Boeing is soon expected to follow Airbus in announcing a halt to production of such four-engine behemoths.

The end of the runway for BA’s jumbo fleet comes as the company, owned by IAG, faces a battle for survival because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as its introduction at BA was marred by labor uncertainty, its retirement almost five decades later comes as BA plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs, or 28% of its workforce, to prepare for a slump in air travel.

U.S.-based Boeing and its suppliers signaled the end of the plane when they set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago.

(Reporting by Sarah Young in London, Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru, Tim Hepher in Paris, Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Potter)

U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal will help stave off U.S. recession: U.S. Chamber CEO

By Andrea Shalal and Jonas Ekblom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Approval and implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement will provide a major boost to the U.S. economy and help stave off a recession, Thomas Donohue, chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said on Thursday.

Donohue, whose organization is spearheading a major campaign to win passage of the trade agreement, said moving ahead with the USMCA would also help pave the way for trade agreements with China, the European Union, Japan and other countries.

“It is a major component in keeping us out of a recession,” Donohue told Reuters after a news conference with other trade associations pushing the U.S. Congress to ratify the replacement for the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He said the timing was critical given other drags on the U.S. economy, including troubles at top U.S. exporter Boeing Co, which this week reported its biggest-ever quarterly loss due to the spiraling cost of resolving issues with its 737 MAX.

Boeing has reduced production of the grounded jet and suspended deliveries, but on Wednesday warned it might have to shut production completely if it runs into new hurdles with global regulators.

The single-aisle plane was grounded worldwide in March after two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

“A reduction in our economic growth and our trade is taking place with the Boeing problem,” Donohue said. “They’ll survive this, they’ll move forward.”

House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats, who control the chamber, for not bringing the USMCA up for a vote before lawmakers leave for their summer recess.

“What will this do? Only make our country stronger, more prosperous, create more jobs, make the debate with China even in a stronger position for America and make the future better than it is today. But they didn’t do anything about it,” McCarthy told reporters at a news conference.

Donohue and other business leaders cited growing bipartisan support for the USMCA and expressed optimism that the House would move to ratify the agreement in September.

Nearly 600 trade and commerce groups sent a letter urging lawmakers to approve the deal as soon as possible.

“If we don’t move positively on Canada and Mexico, it will be very, very difficult for us to muster the goodwill in other places to get agreements with China, with Japan and the EU,” Donohue told a news conference.

Leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada signed the agreement in November, but it must be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries.

House Democrats have promised to block the deal until their concerns over environmental, labor and pharmaceutical aspects of the agreement are met, but Donohue and others said they were upbeat those issues could be resolved.

White House officials say the agreement would add about half a percentage point of economic growth to the U.S. economy, creating several hundred thousand jobs and sparking up to $100 billion in new investments in the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is due to meet with Democratic lawmakers about the agreement again this week, with a focus on enforcement issues.

Industry leaders said moving forward would reduce uncertainty and free businesses to make new investments.

“The thing we hear most about the need to move forward with this agreement is the need to provide certainty,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.

The group said it would use state fairs and events in local districts in coming weeks to pressure lawmakers to back passage of the deal while campaigning against its opponents.

“We will be activating our grassroots network and targeting key districts,” Donohue said. “You can’t be pro-jobs and anti-USCMA.”

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

Southwest Airlines extends 737 MAX cancellations through October 1

FILE PHOTO: A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are shown parked at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California, U.S., March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co on Thursday said it was extending the cancellation of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes from its flying schedule until Oct. 1, a day after the Federal Aviation Administration warned it had uncovered a new issue that must be resolved before the plane can be ungrounded.

The airline had previously planned to keep the jet off its flying schedule through Sept. 2. Boeing Co’s MAX fleet has been grounded since March, following a second fatal crash in five months.

Southwest, the world’s largest MAX operator with 34 jets, said the delay will result in removing about 150 flights out of its total peak daily schedule of 4,000.

The FAA on Wednesday said it had identified a new potential risk that Boeing must address on the planes.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Boeing will not conduct a certification test flight until July 8, under a best-case scenario. The test is a necessary step before Boeing can submit a formal request for approval of a software upgrade for the planes.

Southwest said it “made this decision before any developments of the past few days.”

Once the FAA approves the MAX for flight, Southwest has said it would take about 30 days to get the jets up and running again.

American Airlines said on Thursday it did not “have any schedule announcement to make at this time.” United Airlines on Wednesday said it was extending cancellations into September.

Boeing shares were down 2.5% at $365.48 on Thursday.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bill Berkrot)

Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes, killing 157

Members of the search and rescue mission carry dead bodies at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

By Duncan Miriri, Maggie Fick and Aaron Maasho

NAIROBI/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board and raising questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a new model that also crashed in Indonesia in October.

Sunday’s flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. (0538 GMT), before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 a.m.

A relative reacts as he leaves the information centre following the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A relative reacts as he leaves the information centre following the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

“There are no survivors,” the airline tweeted alongside a picture of Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam holding up a piece of debris inside a large crater at the crash site.

“The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return,” Tewolde told a news conference.

Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, said Tewolde.

The dead included Kenyan, Ethiopian, American, Canadian, French, Chinese, Egyptian, Swedish, British, Dutch, Indian, Slovakian, Austrian, Swedish, Russian, Moroccan, Spanish, Polish, and Israeli citizens.

At least four worked for the United Nations, the airline said, and the U.N.’s World Food Program director confirmed his organization had lost staff in the accident.

Weeping relatives begged for information at airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

“We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone,” said Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.

The aircraft, a 737 MAX 8, is the same model that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on Oct 29, killing all 189 people on board the Lion Air flight.

The cause of that crash is still under investigation.

People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

A senior U.S. government official said it was too early to tell if there was any direct connection between the two accidents, but that reviewing the issue would be among the top priorities for investigators.

The 737 is the world&rsquo;s best selling modern passenger aircraft and is seen as one of the industry&rsquo;s most reliable.

A preliminary report into the October crash focused on airline maintenance and training and technical questions about the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor.

Boeing is working on a software patch on the system, while insisting cockpit procedures were already in place to deal safely with problems the Lion Air crew experienced.

Ethiopian’s new aircraft had no recorded technical problems and the pilot had an “excellent” flying record, Tewolde said.

&ldquo;We received the airplane on November 15, 2018. It has flown more than 1,200 hours. It had flown from Johannesburg earlier this morning,” he said.

“UNSTABLE SPEED”

Flight ET 302, registration number ET-AVJ, crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 km (38 miles) southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, with 149 passengers and eight crew aboard, the airline said.

The flight had unstable vertical speed after take off, the flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted.

Data released by the Sweden-based service suggested the aircraft had climbed almost 1,000 feet after taking off from Addis Ababa, a hot and high-altitude airport whose thinner air requires extra effort from an aircraft’s engines.

It dipped about 450 feet before rapidly climbing another 900 feet until the point where satellite tracking data was lost.

The aircraft had shattered into many pieces and was severely burnt, a Reuters reporter at the scene of the crash said. Clothing and personal effects were scattered widely over the field where the plane came down.

There was no immediate indication of what caused the crash and safety experts said it was too early to speculate, adding most accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors.

They said investigators would examine the wreckage and bodies for any signs of burns or unusual forces and study the shape and size of the wreckage field. An urgent priority will be to find the two crash-protected cockpit recorders – one for data and the other for pilots’ voice recordings.

Boeing said it was sending a technical team to help with the Ethiopian-led investigation.

ANGUISHED RELATIVES

At Nairobi airport, many relatives were left waiting at the gate for hours, with no information from airport authorities. Some learned of the crash from journalists.

Robert Mutanda, 46, was waiting for his brother-in-law, a Canadian citizen.

“No, we haven’t seen anyone from the airline or the airport,” he told Reuters at 1pm, more than three hours after the flight was lost. “Nobody has told us anything, we are just standing here hoping for the best.”

Kenyan officials did not arrive at the airport until 1:30 p.m.

James Macharia, the cabinet secretary for transport, said he heard about the crash via Twitter.

Nineteen staff from at least five U.N. and affiliated organizations died, including the World Food Program, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, the International Telecommunications Union, the U.N. Environment Program, the World Bank and the International Organisation on Migration, the IOM said.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES

Under international rules, responsibility for leading the crash investigation lies with Ethiopia but the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will also participate because the plane was designed and built in the United States.

Representatives of Boeing and Cincinnati-based engine-maker CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and General Electric Co and France&rsquo;s Safran SA, were expected to advise the NTSB.

Ethiopian is one of the biggest carriers on the continent by fleet size. The plane was among six of 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets the rapidly expanding carrier has ordered.

The fleet will continue flying since the cause of the crash is not clear, the CEO said.

Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off, killing all 90 people onboard. The Lebanese blamed pilot error, which was disputed by the airline.

North American airlines that operate the 737 MAX 8 said they were monitoring the investigation. Southwest Airlines flies 31 MAX 8 jets while American Airlines and Air Canada each have 24 in their fleet. Southwest said it remained confident in the safety of its more than 750 Boeing jets.

(Additional reporting by Hereward Holland, Omar Mohammed and Katharine Houreld in Nairobi; Tiksa Negeri in Bishoftu; Tim Hepher in Paris, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Allison Lampert in Montreal and David Shephardson in Washington; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Jane Merriman)

Indonesian divers find crashed Lion Air jet’s second black box

FILE PHOTO - Wreckage recovered from Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, lies at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

By Cindy Silviana

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities on Monday said they will immediately begin to download contents of a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from a Lion Air jet that crashed into the sea near Jakarta more than two months ago, killing all 189 people on board.

The crash was the world’s first of a Boeing Co 737 MAX jet and the deadliest of 2018, and the recovery of the aircraft’s second black box from the Java Sea north of Jakarta on Monday may provide an account of the last actions of the doomed jet’s pilots.

“We have our own laboratory and personnel to do it,” Haryo Satmiko, deputy chief of the transportation safety committee, told Reuters.

Satmiko said it had in the past taken up to three months to download, analyze and transcribe the contents of recorders.

Contact with flight JT610 was lost 13 minutes after it took off on Oct. 29 from the capital, Jakarta, heading north to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang.

A preliminary report by Indonesia’s transport safety commission focused on airline maintenance and training, as well as the response of a Boeing anti-stall system and a recently replaced sensor, but did not give a cause for the crash.

A group of relatives of victims urged the transportation safety committee to reveal “everything that was recorded” and to work independently.

Navy Lieutenant Colonel Agung Nugroho told Reuters a weak signal from the recorder was detected several days ago and it was found buried deep in soft mud on the seafloor in water about 30 meters (98 ft) deep.

“We don’t know what damage there is but it has obvious scratches on it,” Nugroho said.

Pictures supplied by an official from the transportation agency showed chipped bright orange paint on the CVR memory unit, but no major dents.

Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at the safety committee, told reporters it should take no more than five days to download the data, but if there was a problem the CVR would be sent to the manufacturer.

“We hope it can be done as soon as possible because all the Boeing operators are waiting,” said Utomo, adding that investigators hoped to complete the full report within a year of the crash.

With the recovery of the CVR, officials said there was no plan to continue searching for other parts of the wrecked plane, including an angle of attack sensor that was suspected to have been faulty.

The navy’s Nugroho said human remains had been found near the location of the CVR, about 50 meters from where the crashed jet’s other black box, the flight data recorder (FDR), was found three days after the crash.

Investigators brought in a navy ship last week after a 10-day, 38 billion rupiah ($2.70 million), an effort funded by Lion Air failed to find the recorder. Bureaucratic wrangling and funding problems hampered the initial search.

The L3 Technologies Inc CVR was designed to send acoustic pings for 90 days after a crash in water, according to an online brochure from the manufacturer.

That would mean that after Jan. 27, investigators could have faced a far bigger problem in finding the CVR buried along with much of the wreckage deep in mud on the sea floor..

Boeing said in a statement on Monday that it was taking “every measure” to fully support this investigation.

“As the investigation continues, Boeing is working closely with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as a technical advisor to support Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee,” the planemaker said in a statement.

Since the crash, Lion Air has faced scrutiny over its maintenance and training standards, and relatives of victims have filed at least three lawsuits against Boeing.

(Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen and Tabita Diela; Editing by Robert Birsel and Darren Schuettler)