Boeing is redesigning the flight-control system of the 737 Max to deal with a new flaw the FAA uncovered, reports say

  • Boeing is planning a more comprehensive software update to its 737 Max planes after the US Federal Aviation Administration uncovered a new issue, according to multiple reports.
  • Boeing is redesigning the flight-control system to take input from two computers during a flight instead of just one, The Seattle Times and Bloomberg reported.
  • The FAA uncovered a new issue with the planes in June, adding to Boeing’s problems following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
  • One former Boeing engineer described the changes as “a huge deal” and said that “it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boeing is reportedly redesigning the flight-control system of the 737 Max to deal with a new flaw uncovered by the US Federal Aviation Administration, going beyond the initial software update that it pledged to introduce in the aftermath of the plane’s two fatal crashes.

The Seattle Times reported on Thursday that Boeing was making a fundamental change to the flight-control software in the Max after the FAA in June flagged a new issue with the plane that could cause it to go into a dive.

With the change, the planes would take inputs from both of its flight-control computers during a flight instead of just one, a system that has been standard on 737 planes for decades, the report said.

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The FAA has been facing fresh scrutiny of how it originally certified the plane, the Seattle Times report said.

Bloomberg also reported the redesign.

The Seattle Times said that regulators didn’t think that pilots could act as a safeguard if the plane’s systems were to malfunction or cause problems. Boeing had told pilots that they needed to fulfil this role.

Peter Lemme, a former Boeing flight-control engineer, told The Seattle Times that the update was “a huge deal.”

“I’m overjoyed to hear Boeing is doing this,” he said. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

Before the issue was discovered in June, Boeing had pledged to update its software to deal with problems in the plane’s automated anti-stall software, called MCAS.

The MCAS is believed to be responsible for the two crashes involving the plane, in October 2018 and March 2019, that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing 737 Max Ethiopian AirlinesJemal Countess/Getty ImagesInvestigators look at the debris from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash in March.

Boeing said that update meant the plane would compare inputs from two sensors that measure its position in the sky, instead of just one. Boeing had completed that update, though it hadn’t been approved by the FAA or regulators in other countries.

It is not clear whether the new update would replace this original update, or if Boeing still intends to make this original update to the planes.

The plane has been grounded around the world since March and scrutinised by the FAA, which needs to certify changes to the plane before it can fly again.

Read more:
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People familiar with Boeing’s plans told Bloomberg and The Seattle Times that Boeing expects to be able to present its final software updates to the FAA for certification by the end of September, meaning the plane could fly by October.

While this is significantly later than Boeing’s earlier estimates, it is sooner than some in the industry expect. Many airlines have said they are not scheduling their Max planes to fly until January 2020 after a series of delays to the plane’s return.

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