Boeing 737 MAX anti-stall system now “more robust” but no sign of jet’s return to the skies

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 ©AirTeamImages

Boeing has confirmed that fixes to the anti-stall software system on its 737 MAX jet should now prevent any failures of the automated flight control system that kicks in if the jet senses its rate of climb could lead to a stall. While there are still no definitive answers to what caused the recent crashes involving Lion Air and an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX jets, information surrounding the two incidents is believed to indicate there were similarities in the aircraft’s behaviour immediately prior to each tragic event.

Boeing is currently under pressure from crash victims’ families, airlines, lawmakers in Washington and regulators around the world to prove that the automated flight control systems of its 737 Max aircraft are safe, and that pilots have the training required to override the system in an emergency. A Boeing official in Seattle said on Wednesday that the timing of the software upgrade was “100% independent of the timing of the Ethiopian accident”, and the company was taking steps to make the anti-stall system “more robust”.

With all 737 MAX jets still grounded worldwide, FAA approval of the fixes will still be required, along with adequate pilot training, before the plane will be cleared to take to the skies once again. The FAA said it had not yet reviewed or certified the upgrade. It has agreed to significantly improve its oversight of organisations certifying on its behalf by July, the US transport department’s inspector general, Calvin Scovel, told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

Allied Pilots Association said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that the certification process should not be rushed, the association, adding that the fix should be fully vetted and should take into account any further information from an investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

With a fleet of 34 737 MAX jets, Southwest Airlines is the first major airline to amend its financial outlook as a result of the current grounding of the airplane.

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