You’d think that, after all this time, we’d get the flying thing down to a “T”. The Boeing 737 Max proved that isn’t the case. The development of new aviation technologies might be a natural part of progress but it’s not something that can be taken lightly considering the hundreds of lives involved. Sources claim that Boeing is ready to roll out sweeping changes to correct flaws in the stall-prevention system of the grounded new fleet but questions remain on why they passed certification in the first place.
The Boeing 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS is believed to have been the cause of a Lion Air crash that killed 189 people last October as well as a similar Ethiopian Airlines crash just this month. In the case of the Lion Air incident, investigators believed that the new automated system erroneously detected stalling conditions, forcing the plane’s nose to dive despite the pilots’ attempts to manually override it.
The 737 Max has been grounded across the world but reports indicate that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has tentatively approved Boeing’s proposed changes to prevent future accidents. Those include a software update that will make it gentler and allow pilots to overpower it instead of the other way around. The update will also require MCAS to take into consideration data from two sensors rather than just one, in case one sensor becomes faulty like the Lion Air incident.
Changes also include additional pilot training, something that was not initially required when the 737 Max planes were first rolled out. The FAA reportedly determined that the 737 Max had the same handling features as earlier 737 planes and didn’t require pilots to get additional training. The FAA has been accused of lapses that has led to the 737 Max’s unchecked rollout.
Even if these changes do get officially approved, it will take weeks to apply the software fixes to all planes and months for it to be reviewed. And that’s just on the US side. The FAA’s counterparts in Canada and the European Union will also conduct their own investigations, including how and why the FAA certified the problematic plane.