Boeing to upgrade software in 737 Max 8 fleet in weeks

Boeing has confirmed it will deploy a software upgrade to the 737 Max 8, a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would mandate “design changes” in the aircraft by April.

Boeing did not reference Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash in connection to the software upgrade. The statement did express the company’s condolences to the relatives of the 157 people who died, however.

The company said in the aftermath of October’s Lion Air Flight crash, it has for several months “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 Max, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer”.

The software upgrade is expected to be deployed across the 737 Max fleet in the coming weeks as FAA told international civil aviation authorities that it anticipates mandating these design changes no later than April, although it did not ground the fleet.

US federal aviation authorities noted they would order Boeing to modify its 737 Max 8 aircraft, including anti-stalling software and manoeuvring system updates, after two of the planes crashed in five months.

The Company is also set to update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the changes.

The FAA has notified other global civil aviation authorities that it may soon share safety information concerning Boeing’s 737 Max 8, the statement said.

Nevertheless, US aviation regulators underlined their confidence in the safety of the 737 Max jetliner with a global notice of “continued airworthiness”.

There isn’t conclusive evidence so far to link the loss of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 on Sunday (March 10) and a fatal Lion Air disaster involving the same jet model in October, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday. Boeing is working on improvements to the plane’s flight-control system and the FAA plans to publish a related directive to operators no later than April.

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” the FAA said.

“However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

The statement signals that US regulators have no immediate intention of grounding the 737 Max 8, breaking with a decision by China and other to tell its airlines to suspend use of the plane after this weekend’s crash that killed 157 people near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Boeing’s flight-control changes would address the plane’s anti-stall software and faulty sensor linked to the earlier crash in the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia.

Boeing sank 5.3 per cent to US$400.01 at the close in New York, the biggest decline since Oct 29, the day of the Lion Air crash.

Source: The Straits Times