“Don’t fix what ain’t broke” is not an excuse not to try to innovate but neither is innovation an excuse to break things. That’s true for foldable phones and even truer for airplane control systems. Unfortunately, Boeing learned its lessons at the expense of lives but it is persistently clawing at those problems. Now it seems to suggest that it is close to earning its wings back once the 737 MAX clears the last hurdles that the FAA has set up for its re-certification.
Hindsight is, of course, 20/20 but there are things that you need to check and test over and over again to be really sure, especially when lives are at stake. Boeing could claim it did due diligence in testing the new 737 MAX and its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). But two fatal crashes and a few reports later suggest otherwise.
Boeing earlier triumphantly announced that it has implemented new failsafe features for the MCAS as well as new training manuals for pilots. The US Federal Aviation Administration, however, quickly made it clear that, no, that doesn’t mean the 737 MAX has been cleared to return to service just yet. It still has to go through FAA scrutiny and that’s just in the US.
Boeing is now reporting another milestone, taking a step towards the plane’s return to service. In addition to updating the 737 MAX software and completing more than 360 hours on 207 flights (simulate and actual), it is addressing some of the questions that the FAA had about pilot interaction and emergency responses.
That, however, won’t be the end of it. It still has to undergo actual FAA certification and flight tests. The bottom line is that Boeing says it’s ready for that scrutiny and is eager to get the 737 MAX back to the skies. Considering the investment it poured on its development and production, that’s not entirely too surprising. Passengers, however, can only hope both Boeing and regulators will do their tasks properly this time.