Away from the Headlines, Defence Is Boeing’s Next Problem (excerpt)
(Source: The Economist; published Feb 8, 2020)
The airspace giant Boeing has detected a new software issue while testing the 737 MAX airliner, as the company struggles to lift the ban on the grounded jet. The plane was taken out of service over deadly crashes.

The troubled 737 MAX passenger plane has a software fault which causes an indicator light to light up at the wrong time, Boeing said on Thursday. The new plane model, set to be a centerpiece in Boeing's lineup, had been grounded in March 2019 following twin crashes which claimed 346 lives.

The light is linked with the "stabilizer trim system" which adjusts the stabilizers at the tail of the plane.

"We are incorporating a change to the 737 MAX software prior to the fleet returning to service to ensure that this indicator light only illuminates as intended," the company said on Thursday.

However, they said that the latest issue would most likely not affect the timeline for returning the plane to service. The company aims to have the ban lifted by mid-2020.

Boeing 'made some mistakes'

The crashes of Indonesia's Lion Air and Ethiopia Airlines in 2018 and 2019 prompted air traffic regulators across the world to ban the narrow-body jet. Experts pointed to the jet's MCAS anti-stall system which automatically pushes the nose down.

After flights operated by Indonesia's Lion Air and Ethiopia Airlines crashed in 2018 and 2019, experts linked the crashes with the jet's MCAS anti-stall system. The emergency program overrides the pilot's control to automatically push the nose of the narrow-body jet down and put it into a dive.

When questioned by US lawmakers in October 2019, Boeing CEO at the time, Dennis Muilenburg, admitted that the company "made some mistakes."

'Clowns' and 'monkeys'

Boeing has been hounded by controversy over the fatal crashes and the subsequent fallout. Last month, US officials published communications between Boeing employees, with one of the employees saying that the new 737 MAX was "designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys."

Just days later, Boeing announced it had detected a software issue linked with the aircraft's monitoring systems. It was not immediately clear if this problem was linked with the indicator light.

The Boeing 737 fiasco has crippled the company's earnings, with the aviation giant posting a net loss of $636 million (€579 million) in 2019, compared to some $10.5 billion in profits during the year before.

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Boeing's Botched Starliner Test Flirted with 'Catastrophic' Failure: NASA Panel (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published Feb. 7, 2020)
By Joey Roulette
Boeing narrowly missed a “catastrophic failure” during its December flight test of an unmanned space taxi that was cut short by an unrelated problem, a NASA safety review panel said Thursday, recommending that the agency examine Boeing’s software verification process before letting it fly humans to space.

The newly revealed software bug, which Boeing said was fixed while the CST-100 Starliner was still in orbit, could have “led to erroneous thruster firings” that could have resulted in “a catastrophic spacecraft failure,” panel member Paul Hill said.

Boeing and NASA officials had zeroed in on an unrelated glitch, with the spacecraft’s automated timer, hours after the spacecraft failed to reach its intended orbit 30 minutes into flight. The timer malfunction forced the craft to scrub its rendezvous with the International Space Station, and the Starliner returned to Earth a week early. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.

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