Boeing has invited more than 200 airline pilots, technical leaders, and regulators to a so-called informational session in Renton, Washington, this Wednesday, to discuss the software and training updates underway for the 737 Max. Boeing expects to further elaborate on details it shared during a Saturday meeting with the U.S. operators of Max jets—American, United, and Southwest Airlines—on plans to support the return of the narrowbody to commercial service. Boeing reiterated that it would pay for the development of the updates.
Since the FAA issued a November 7 Airworthiness Directive giving pilots procedures to follow in the event of runaway horizontal trim caused by faulty angle-of-attack inputs to the airplane’s flight control system, Boeing has worked on updates to the MCAS flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals, and crew training. The “enhanced” flight control law incorporates AOA inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority. The company said it expects to complete the software update no later than April.
The AD arose out of preliminary findings into the October 29, 2018, crash of a Lion Air 737 Max 8 off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. Similarities between the circumstances surrounding that accident and those of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157 led to the grounding of all 357 remaining Max narrowbodies.
Nevertheless, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam on Monday issued a statement of support for Boeing following Garuda Indonesia’s statement three days earlier that it sought to cancel deliveries of the remaining 49 of an order for 50 Max 8s, citing “loss of confidence” among passengers. “Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing,” said Gebremariam. “They have been a partner of ours for many years...Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future.”