US Demands Boeing Make Changes to 737 Max 8
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued March 11, 2019)
US federal aviation authorities on Monday said they will order Boeing to make improvements to its 737 Max 8 following two deadly crashes in the past five months involving the new airliner, but did not ground the jet.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Boeing that it anticipates design changes, including adding anti-stalling software and maneuvering system updates by April.
It also said that Boeing will update training requirements and flight crew manuals.
However, it did not order the grounding the 737 Max 8 jets in the United States.
"If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action," it said in a statement.
Hours later, Boeing said it would upgrade the software on all 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the next few weeks.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao reassured passengers that the country's aviation safety authorities were "taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments."
Countries ground fleets
The announcement came after Ethiopia, China, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 Max 8 as a safety precaution in response to an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash on Sunday that killed all 157 people on board.
Earlier on Monday, investigators recovered two black box recorders that they hope will help reveal why the Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed into the ground moments after take-off.
The disaster came months after the same model of jet belonging to Indonesia's Lion Air crashed in October, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
Boeing said it was still confident in the safety in the MAX series.
The airline manufacturer's shares fell by 5 percent on Monday trading, wiping some $12.7 billion (€11.3 billion) off the company's market value.
Boeing Statement on 737 MAX Software Enhancement
(Source: Boeing Co.; issued March 11, 2019)
The Boeing Company is deeply saddened by the loss of Lion Air Flight 610, which has weighed heavily on the entire Boeing team, and we extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those onboard.
Safety is a core value for everyone at Boeing and the safety of our airplanes, our customers’ passengers and their crews is always our top priority. The 737 MAX is a safe airplane that was designed, built and supported by our skilled employees who approach their work with the utmost integrity.
For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer. This includes updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.
Boeing has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks. The update also incorporates feedback received from our customers.
The FAA says it anticipates mandating this software enhancement with an Airworthiness Directive (AD) no later than April. We have worked with the FAA in development of this software enhancement.
It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time, and the required actions in AD2018-23.5 continue to be appropriate.
A pitch augmentation control law (MCAS) was implemented on the 737 MAX to improve aircraft handling characteristics and decrease pitch-up tendency at elevated angles of attack. It was put through flight testing as part of the certification process prior to the airplane entering service. MCAS does not control the airplane in normal flight; it improves the behavior of the airplane in a non-normal part of the operating envelope.
Boeing’s 737 MAX Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) already outlines an existing procedure to safely handle the unlikely event of erroneous data coming from an angle of attack (AOA) sensor. The pilot will always be able to override the flight control law using electric trim or manual trim. In addition, it can be controlled through the use of the existing runaway stabilizer procedure as reinforced in the Operations Manual Bulletin (OMB) issued on Nov. 6, 2018.
Additionally, we would like to express our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. A Boeing technical team is at the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. It is still early in the investigation, as we seek to understand the cause of the accident.