Boeing, FAA announce changes in wake of fatal 737 MAX crashes

Mar 27, 2019, 11:40 AM | Updated: 11:57 am
Boeing 737 MAX briefing...
A Wednesday press conference from Boeing briefed reporters on software changes to the 737 MAX. (Ranji Sinha, KIRO 7)
(Ranji Sinha, KIRO 7)

Two hundred people from airlines around the world were in Renton on Wednesday to see Boeing’s software fix for the 737 MAX. The Federal Aviation Administration announced changes of its own as well in front of a U.S. Senate committee.

The 737 MAX remains grounded worldwide after two of them crashed, killing more than 300 people.

RELATED: Seattle firm files lawsuit against over Lion Air crash

The second crash involved Ethiopian Airlines and their CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, was among those anxious for answers.

“It just happened within a span of five months, a similar flight pattern,” Gebremariam said. “They both happened, the accident happened during take-off. So there are a lot of similarities.”

The software update is to fix the automated system that’s believed to have pushed the nose down on the Lion Air plane.

KIRO 7 TV’s Ranji Sinha reported Wednesday that Boeing presented a limited media briefing that only allowed video and audio recording for five minutes. In that presentation, Boeing told reporters that it would be adding a second angle of attack sensor.

It also announced a failsafe that makes it so that if the system causes the plane’s nose to point down repeatedly, it will shut off and give pilots total control of the plane.

Aviation Analyst Mary Schiavo remains skeptical, at least concerning the pace of all these changes.

“So Boeing says they’re going to have this software patch by next week and all the pilots trained by May,” Schiavo said. “But I doubt that.”

Schiavo is the former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and she says the current FBI investigation into how the FAA certified the 737 MAX 8 creates doubts about them certifying the fix Boeing will announce.

“Who is going to trust an FAA certification while there’s a criminal investigation going on undoubtedly involving the FAA,” she said.

Meanwhile, the FAA announced plans Wednesday to revamp its oversight of airplane development, announcing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that it would be instituting changes to evaluate training and self-audits from aerospace companies.

Boeing released a statement from CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday in response to the Ethiopian Airlines crash. It read in part: “With a shared value of safety, be assured that we are bringing all of the resources of The Boeing Company to bear, working together tirelessly to understand what happened and do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

RELATED: Boeing CEO issues statement on status of 737 MAX

In the meantime Southwest Airlines is canceling flights five days out as a result of the grounding, while American is canceling about 90 flights a day through April 24.

Written by John Knicely, additional reporting from MyNorthwest Staff

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Boeing, FAA announce changes in wake of fatal 737 MAX crashes