737MAX 8 First Flight | Photo: © Boeing

LONDON – Boeing has today outlined what it is doing and what it has changed in order to ensure a smooth re-entry into service of the 737MAX that has been grounded since the first quarter of this year.

In a statement, the manufacturer said that it “has made significant progress over the past several months of support of safely returning the 737MAX to service as the company continues to work with the FAA”.

What Boeing Is Doing…

Information suggests that Boeing is currently doing four things in response to the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

The first is support for the victim families, with the manufacturer establishing a $100 million relief fund to meet the needs of those that lost loved ones in the two accidents.

The second update is regarding software updates and flight testing of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Software (MCAS).

Boeing has added three additional layers of protection that will prevent what has happened again.

It has strengthened the system with 800 test and production flights with the updated version of MCAS, which has totalled over 1,500 hours.

On top of this, the company is making progress on the second software update for additional flight control computer redundancy.

It is understood that consultation with the 140 customers and regulators had been arranged so then they could experience the software update to MCAS which was pitched back in June.

The third thing is the customer & stakeholder side of things, with Boeing conducting 20 conferences to help operators and financiers prepare for a return to service.

The final thing is the 24/7 Fleet Support, with Boeing “providing around-the-clock customer support through its global operations center”, which will give reassurance to customers regarding the MAX.

What has Boeing changed?

The manufacturer has made big changes to its governance and oversight by appointing a Board Committee which has conducted a rigorous five-month independent review of the company’s policies and decision-making processes.

It has been noted with this that the roles of chairman and chief executive officer have been separated which means that Dennis Muilenberg can focus full time on running the company.

The second thing it has changed is the Safety Management and Engineering Focus.

September 30 saw the manufacturer announce the formation of a Product and Services Safety organisation which will review all aspects of product safety and maintain oversight of its accident investigation teams.

The final thing is regarding additional steps taken, which consist of elements such as the comprehensive safety management system as well as anonymous reporting systems to encourage more reports of accidents or faults to aircraft.

Muilenberg added a few words, in the hope that it will reassure consumers, customers and shareholders.

“We continue to make steady progress in safely returning the 737 MAX to service. Our Boeing teams are unwavering in their commitment to our customers and our values, and the changes we’re implementing now will further strengthen our approach to safety across our company and the aerospace community,”

A Step in the Right Direction?

For once, Boeing has outlined what it has done in the wake of the two accidents which resulted in the grounding of the aircraft.

This could definitely be seen as a step in the right direction, as it is showing the efforts of Boeing to get the aircraft back into service.

The information sent over to us did not indicate a date for this return, but it seems Boeing is playing its cards right and taking things step-by-step as opposed to the production stage of the MAX.

Only time will tell to see how the external stakeholders will respond to this news and whether it will apply any further consumer confidence into the aircraft, but also into Boeing’s shares as well.

But for now, the aircraft remains grounded, and until we see a date for a return to service, the MAX crisis still unfolds.