Boeing says finalizing software upgrade, revising pilot training for 737 Max

Blanche Robertson
March 20, 2019

More than 300 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 passenger jets have been taken out of service worldwide after two fatal crashes over the past five months in Ethiopia and Indonesia killed nearly 350 people.

That extra pilot, who was seated in the cockpit jump seat, correctly diagnosed the problem and told the crew how to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system and save the plane, according to two people familiar with Indonesia's investigation.

The previously undisclosed detail on the earlier Lion Air flight represents a new clue in the mystery of how some 737 Max pilots faced with the malfunction have been able to avert disaster, while others lost control of their planes and crashed.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that federal prosecutors and US Department of Transportation officials are scrutinising the development of the 737 Max and a separate Seattle Times investigation revealed that federal regulators had delegated wide responsibility for assessing the plane's safety to Boeing and the company, in turn, had delivered an analysis with crucial flaws.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment but confirmed the authenticity of the email. The FAA, on the other hand, only reviewed the data and certified the aircraft.

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"Safety is the top priority of the Department, and all of us are saddened by the fatalities resulting from the recent accidents involving two Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia", Chao said. The agency and Boeing said they are also going to require additional training and references to it in flight manuals.

Muilenburg said a software upgrade for the 737 MAX aircraft that the planemaker started in the wake of October's deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia was coming "soon".

The announcement comes as the agency faces increasing criticism and scrutiny over what some viewed as its slow response to the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner and questions over whether it did enough to ensure the aircraft involved in the crash, a Boeing 737 Max 8, was safe to fly.

However, specific new pilot training is not expected to be defined until the software fix is in place, industry sources said. American, Southwest and United have said the grounding of their Max jets have led to some canceled flights.

"Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX". Investigators looking to uncover the causes must answer one of the biggest questions: Was the plane's software to blame?

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