Thursday, 14 November 2019

Boeing to upgrade software across 737 MAX fleet after Ethiopia deadly crash

NAIROBI: According to the company’s statement, cited by Reuters, the software enhancement includes updates to Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training.

“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 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”, the statement said.

The news comes after a Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 Max 8, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday. All 157 people from over 30 countries who were on board the Boeing were killed. The causes of the accident are yet unknown. According to the airline, the plane was well-maintained.

The latest crash in Ethiopia is the second fatal incident involving the narrow-body aircraft in less than five months. In late October 2018, another Boeing 737 MAX 8, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, plunged into the Java Sea shortly after take-off, claiming the lives of 189 people.

While external reports have compared Sunday’s accident in Ethiopia to a similar crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia in October, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that it has not been provided with data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.

However, the FAA said in a recent statement that the US aviation authorities would order Boeing to make changes to a flight correction system of its 737 Max 8 aircraft, having certified the plane’s airworthiness following two deadly crashes in recent months.

“The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes […] no later than April 2019”, the statement said Monday. The US aviation agency will take immediate action if it identifies any issues with Boeing 737 Max that affect flight safety, it added.

Following the deadly crash, Ethiopian Airlines announced that it had decided to suspend the operation of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes as a precaution, with Cayman Airways, Chinese and Indonesian aviation authorities following suit. India announced a safety review, while Vietnam said that it would not grant licenses for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft until the investigation into the ET 302 crash is completed.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a letter on Monday to the FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell that the FAA should ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operating in the United States.

“Until the cause of the crash is known and it’s clear that similar risks aren’t present in the domestic fleet, I believe all Boeing 737 Max 8 series aircraft operating in the United States should be temporarily grounded”, Feinstein said in the letter on Monday.

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