- Boeing is planning a more comprehensive software update to its 737 Max planes after the US Federal Aviation Administration uncovered a new issue, according to multiple reports.
- Boeing is redesigning the flight control system to take the input from two computers during a flight instead of just one, both The Seattle Times and Bloomberg reported.
- The FAA uncovered a new issue with the planes in June, adding to Boeing’s problems following the two fatal crashes by the planes that killed 346 people.
- One former Boeing engineer said the reported new changes are "a huge deal" and said: "It’s absolutely the right thing to do."
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Boeing is reportedly redesigning the flight control system of the 737 Max to deal with a new flaw uncovered by the US Federal Aviation Administration, going beyond the initial software update that it pledged to introduce in the aftermath of the plane’s two fatal crashes.
The Seattle Times reported on Thursday that Boeing is making a fundamental change to the flight-control software in the Max after the FAA flagged a new issue with the plane in June, which caused the plane to go into a dive.
The change will see the plane take the inputs from both of its flight-control computers during a flight instead of just one — the system that according to The Seattle Times has been standard on 737 planes for decades.
News of the update comes as the FAA faces fresh scrutiny for how it originally certified the plane, the Seattle Times report said.
Bloomberg also reported the redesign.
Regulators, The Seattle Times reported, felt that pilots could not act as a safeguard if the plane’s systems malfunctioned or caused problems. Boeing previously told pilots that they needed to fulfill this role after the first crash by a 737 Max plane.
Peter Lemme, a former flight-controls engineer at Boeing, told The Seattle Times that the new update, which takes the input from the two computers, is "a huge deal."
"I’m overjoyed to hear Boeing is doing this," he said. "It’s absolutely the right thing to do."
Before the new issue was discovered in June, Boeing had pledged a software update to deal with problems in the plane’s automated-anti stall software called MCAS.
MCAS is believed to be responsible for two fatal crashes involving the plane, in October 2018 and March 2019, which killed a total of 346 people.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
This update meant that the plane would compare the inputs from two sensors that measure the plane’s position in the sky, instead of just one. Boeing had completed that update, though it had not yet been approved by the FAA or regulators in other countries.
It is not clear whether the new update entirely replaces this original update, or if Boeing still intends to make this original update to the planes.
The plane has been grounded around the world since March and under the scrutiny of the FAA, which needs to certify changes to the plane before it can fly again.
People familiar with Boeing’s plans told Bloomberg and The Seattle Times that Boeing expects to be able to present its final software updates to the FAA for certification by the end of September, meaning the plane could fly by October.
While this is significantly later than Boeing’s earlier estimates, it is sooner than some in the industry are now fearing. Many airlines have said they are not scheduling their Max planes to fly until January 2020 after seeing a series of delays to the plane’s return.
- Read more about the Boeing 737 Max:
- Airbus more than doubled its profits, pulling further ahead in its fight for aviation supremacy with crisis-hit rival Boeing
- The CEO of one of the world’s largest airlines said Boeing needs to get its ‘s— together’ as the ongoing 737 Max crisis hits the carrier’s profits
- A former Boeing 737 Max engineer said he was ‘incredibly pressurized’ to keep costs down and downplay new features to avoid FAA scrutiny