Boeing unveils fixes for its 737 MAX jets
SEATTLE / WASHINGTON – Reuters
Boeing Co on March 27 took its most aggressive moves yet to defend its core 737 airliner franchise, saying it had developed software fixes to prevent failures of an automated flight control system that is being scrutinized after two deadly crashes in the past five months.
Boeing, in the midst of one its worst crises in years, is under pressure from crash victims’ families, airlines, lawmakers in Washington and regulators around the world to prove that the automated flight control systems aboard its 737 MAX aircraft are safe, and that pilots have the training required to override the system in an emergency.
A Boeing official in Seattle said the timing of the software upgrade was “100 percent independent of the timing of the Ethiopian accident,” and the company was taking steps to make the anti-stall system “more robust.”
The world’s largest planemaker said the anti-stall system, which is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in at least one of the accidents, in Indonesia last October, would only do so one time after sensing a problem, giving pilots more control.
The anti-stall system - known as MCAS, or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System - has been pinpointed by investigators as a possible cause in a fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia and the one in Ethiopia.
The changes were drawn up in response to the Lion Air crash but are seen as crucial to regaining the trust of pilots, passengers and regulators after the Ethiopia crash prompted a worldwide grounding of Boeing 737 MAX planes.
Ethiopian officials and some analysts have said the Ethiopian Airlines jet behaved in a similar pattern before crashing shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, but that investigation is still at an early stage.