- Boeing unveiled the software fix and updated training procedures for the 737 Max airliner on Wednesday.
- The updated software will “provide additional layers of protection if the AOA sensors provide erroneous data,” Boeing said in a release.
- The updates are also geared toward reducing the workload on pilots during emergency situations.
- Boeing will also implement updated pilot-training procedures for the 737 Max.
- Boeing is still working with regulators, including the Federal Aviation Administration, to complete the certification of the software and training updates.
Boeing unveiled the software fix and updated training procedures for the 737 Max airliner on Wednesday. The changes come amid the grounding of the global 737 Max fleet after two deadly crashes in just four months.
“We mourn this loss of life, and we’re going to do everything that we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again,” Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy and development, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We’re working with customers and regulators around the world to restore faith in our industry and also to reaffirm our commitment to safety and to earning the trust of the flying public,” he added.
Most of the updates will be to the 737 Max’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
To fit the Max’s larger, more fuel-efficient engines, Boeing had to position the engine farther forward and up. This change disrupted the plane’s center of gravity and caused the Max to have a tendency to tip its nose upward during flight, increasing the likelihood of a stall. MCAS is designed to automatically counteract that tendency and point the nose of the plane downward when the plane’s angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor triggers a warning.
Initial reports from the Lion Air Flight JT610 investigation, however, indicate that a faulty AOA sensor reading may have triggered MCAS shortly after the flight took off. Observers fear Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 may have experienced a similar issue.
The updated software will “provide additional layers of protection if the AOA sensors provide erroneous data,” Boeing said in a release. The updates are also geared toward reducing the workload on pilots during emergency situations.
Significant changes include:
- The flight-control system will now compare inputs from both AOA sensors. If the sensors disagree by 5.5 degrees or more with the flaps retracted, MCAS will not activate. An indicator on the flight-deck display will alert the pilots.
- If MCAS is activated in non-normal conditions, it will provide only one input for each elevated AOA event. There are no known or envisioned failure conditions in which MCAS will provide multiple inputs.
- MCAS can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column. The pilots will continue to always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the aeroplane.
According to the aeroplane maker, the software updates have been put through “hundreds of hours” of analysis, laboratory tests, and simulator trials. The software went through two test flights, one of which included an in-flight certification test with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) observers on board.
In addition to the software updates, Boeing will also change the training process for pilots to add increased focus on the understanding of the 737 Max control system, MCAS functionality and related crew procedures, and the associated software changes.
The training will also highlight the differences between the previous generation 737 NG and the new 737 Max.
Boeing is still working with regulators such as the FAA to complete the certification of the software and training updates.
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