Boeing defends 737 MAX franchise, awaits U.S. regulator’s approval
Boeing Co on Wednesday took its most aggressive moves yet to defend its core 737 airliner franchise, saying it had developed software fixes to prevent failures of an automated flight control system that is being scrutinized after two deadly crashes in the past five months, reports Reuters.
Boeing, in the midst of one its worst crises in years, is under pressure from crash victims’ families, airlines, lawmakers in Washington and regulators around the world to prove that the automated flight control systems aboard 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 the timing of the software upgrade was “100 percent independent of the timing of the Ethiopian accident,” and the company was taking steps to make the anti-stall system “more robust.”
There was no need to overhaul Boeing’s regulatory relationship with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now, the company said.
“We are going to do everything that we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again,” Mike Sinnett, Vice President for Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development told reporters.
The FAA said it had not reviewed or certified the software upgrade yet.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and some lawmakers on Wednesday questioned why Boeing did not require safety features on its top-selling plane that might have prevented the crashes.
“It is very questionable if these were safety-oriented additions, why they were not part of the required template of measures that should go into an airplane,” she said, adding she was not ready to require that all safety options be retrofitted on existing airplane.
A spokesman for the FAA said the agency had not reviewed or certified the software upgrade yet.
Executives with U.S. airlines welcomed Boeing’s moves, but want U.S. regulators to sign off on the upgrade.