Boeing, FAA share blame in certification of the 737 Max

Cheryl Sanders
October 11, 2019

Boeing withheld key information about its 737 Max plane from pilots and safety officials, and regulators lacked the expertise to understand an automated flight system on the new plane that has been involved in two deadly crashes.

A report expected to be made public today finds fault with Boeing and the FAA over their handling of the 737 MAX certification, according to the New York Times.

In both incidents, investigators focused on the role played by a software system called MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System), which was created to make the aircraft easier to fly.

The company is also addressing a flaw discovered in the software architecture of the 737 Max flight-control system involving using and receiving input from the plane's two flight control computers rather than one.

Their damning 69-page report also found that Boeing had put pressure on some of its staff who had FAA authority to pass the updated designs.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said Friday the agency would respond to all recommendations in the "unvarnished" review.

"We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide", Dickson said.

An EASA spokesperson, however, denied that the agency had any "specific concerns" that would lead it to contradict any USA conclusions about the 737 Max's future safety.

"Boeing is committed to working with the FAA in reviewing the recommendations and helping to continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes going forward", the company said in a prepared statement. European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) officials told senior USA counterparts that one element of the fixes, having two flight control computers operate simultaneously, goes against decades of prior design and has not been adequately tested, the news agency wrote. It took five months to prepare its report, and received briefings from Boeing and the FAA.

Southwest Airlines Co and Brazil's Gol Linhas Aereas have grounded a total of 13 Boeing Co 737 NG airplanes after USA regulators ordered urgent inspections last week.

United Airlines is latest and final USA airline to push back service.

The carrier's latest updated regarding the grounded aircraft said that it "anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020".

Without the planes, United says it will cancel almost 8,300 flights from October through early January.

Fellow US carrier Southwest Airlines has already removed the B737 Max aircraft from its schedules until January 5, 2020.

A total of 346 people were killed in the crashes, resulting in a worldwide grounding of the Max.

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