The troubled Boeing 737 Max may continue to pose safety concerns even after it is recertified and returned to service, according to a risk management specialist.

WorldAware has highlighted concerns about the aircraft, saying that while it “will almost certainly be safer than it was prior to the grounding”, “the safeguards that were designed to detect and eliminate design flaws failed in the design and certification” of the plane.

The company added that “neither Boeing nor the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have outlined plans to re-examine the aircraft for other potential design and/or safety flaws.”

The FAA is still in the process of certifying Boeing’s software update for the 737 Max, which was grounded in March following two crashes in which 346 people died. The regulator recently admitted that it made a mistake by not issuing the grounding order until after the second accident despite knowing there was a risk of further disasters without changes to the aircraft’s systems.

According to reports, it is likely the aircraft will return to service in the first half of 2020, but corporate buyers have expressed concern about allowing travellers to fly on the planes even after they are recertified.

WorldAware’s Global Forecast 2020 report highlights a number of global situations that its experts believe will pose risks to corporate travel next year, including Brexit. According to the firm, the UK’s formal departure from the EU on 31 January could give rise to “sporadic protests” around “key milestones in the calendar year” that could be supplemented by anti-austerity activism. This would be a particular concern if the new government requests another delay to the deadline.

Elsewhere, US tensions with China and Iran are likely to continue into 2020, while an increase in widespread violent protests and cases of kidnapping across Latin America will pose potential threats to travellers in the region. Political elections in Africa – particularly in Ethiopia – could also lead to clashes in many parts of the country.

With sustainability on the world agenda, WorldAware says adverse weather due to climate change has had a costly effect on business operations in recent years, and environmental activism is likely to become increasingly disruptive.

Bruce McIndoe, president and founder of WorldAware, commented: “We’ve applied our expert analysis to this year’s most impactful events to forecast trends and help organisations around the world proactively mitigate risk and avoid potential threats in 2020.”

Download the full report here

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