Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a statement amid the worldwide grounding of its 737 Max 8 passenger airplanes saying that the company will soon release a software update and enhance pilot training.
The open letter to its airline customers, passengers, and the aviation community in general Boeing says that the updates will address the issues that emerged after the crashes of its 737 Max 8 planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed a combined 346 people.
“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we’re taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX,” Muilenburg said. “We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet’s grounding.”
French aviation investigators looking into the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 say that there are “clear similarities” between it and the Oct. 29 crash of Lion Air flight 610.
Data from the other black box and the cockpit voice recordings already indicate that both flights engaged in similar flight patterns and behaviors leading up the crash.
An investigative report by Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times has also uncovered evidence that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) applied pressure on its safety engineers to speed up their assessments of the 737 Max 8, which could indicate the agency’s work was substandard, or to abdicate its regulatory responsibilities to Boeing, allowing the manufacturer to perform its own safety assessments.
“We’ve been working in full cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board on all issues relating to both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines accidents since the Lion Air accident occurred in October last year,” Muilenburg’s letter states.
The ongoing investigations of both Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes are largely focused on the autopilot’s anti-stall function, which relies on a single sensor to determine the airplane’s ”angle of attack” — the variable between the airflow under the wing and the wing’s angle. A faulty sensor could send the wrong information to the plane’s autopilot system, prompting it to point the nose of the aircraft downward to gain lift and speed.