US aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it has completed its updates to the flight-control software on the 737 MAX and has tested it for more than 360 hours on 207 flights, after two deadly crashes resulted in the grounding of the aircraft globally.
The 737 Max 8 and 9 models were grounded worldwide after an Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, similar to a Lion Air crash on October 29 last year. A total of 346 people died in the two crashes.
In both accidents, the automated Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) pushed the planes’ noses down while the pilots struggled to regain control.
“With safety as our clear priority, we have completed all of the engineering test flights for the software update and are preparing for the final certification flight,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Boeing, on Thursday.
The update is expected to prevent erroneous angle of attack sensor readings from triggering the MCAS, something that initial investigation reports indicate had occurred in both accidents involving Max aircraft.
He said, “To date, Boeing has flown the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software for more than 360 hours on 207 flights.” The statement comes ahead of an international gathering of aviation regulators in Dallas next week to discuss the reviews of the Max.
Boeing is now providing additional information to address the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requests that include details on how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different flight scenarios.
Once the requests are addressed, Boeing will work with the FAA to schedule its certification test flight and submit final certification documentation.
“We are committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right. We are making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.”