LONDON – Following the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed nearly 350 people in total, Boeing has announced tech fixes to the 737MAX.
This was announced during a media event hosted by Boeing, in which the manufacturer refused any on the record questions.
Boeing’s Vice President of Product Strategy Mike Sinnett did give a prepared statement however, to push away any further media questions.
“We’re going to do everything that we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again.”
“We’re working with customers and regulators…to restore faith in our industry and also to reaffirm our commitment to safety and to earning the trust of the flying public.”
The fixes are related to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is said to have brought down Lion Air Flight 610.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed yet by investigators in Africa and Europe, analysts are suggesting that the downing of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 may have been similar given the data being
The new fixes are said to make MCAS less powerful and less prone to error, which should make things easier for flight crews when monitoring the accuracy of MCAS.
As mentioned by Leeham News, flight control systems will now only alert the pilots if the sensors disagree by 5.5 degrees or more with the flaps retracted rather than MCAS activating automatically.
MCAS will activate in non-normal conditions, and will only provide one input for each elevated angle-of-attack event. Boeing said that this should be fine due to there being no “known or envisioned failure conditions where MCAS will provide multiple inputs”.
The final element of protection will make MCAS weaker in the sense that it “can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column”.
It ultimately will give pilots more confidence and control over the plan, especially with more ways to override MCAS as well.
Boeing has also recommended that extra computer-based training for pilots should take place over these fixes, but doesn’t amount to training in an actual simulator.
It is unclear when the MAXs will be taken back into service, with regulators now working on re-certification of the aircraft.
It will need to make sure that the fixes provided by Boeing work and make the aircraft safe again.
However, the likes of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be coming under fire during this process.
In a U.S Senate Committee Hearing on March 27, Senator Richard Blumenthal said to the acting head of the FAA Dan Elwell that the institution “decided to safety on the cheap which is neither cheap nor safe, and put the fox in charge of the hen house”.
Senator Ted Cruz also stated that this has “badly shaken consumer confidence” and that “the certification process for planes and the close relationships between industry and regulator threaten to erode trust in the entire system”.
This damage of the FAA’s credibility by American senators will no doubt give the FAA the shake-up it desperately needs.
It will not be until this shake-up has happened where the focus of recertification in the United States can go ahead.
As for overseas regulators, intense scrutiny from the likes of European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Transport Canada will continue in the weeks ahead.