When one computer can’t solve a problem, why not try to throw more computers at it? That is probably not the reasoning behind Boeing’s rumored fix for its problematic 737 Max aircraft but it will probably one of the things that will come to people’s minds. The plane’s return was yet again delayed because of an apparent software flaw that could still pose problems for the plane’s automated system. Now according to anonymous sources, Boeing’s new software will be making two computers to make sure just one won’t take the plane down.
The Boeing 737 Max was involved in two fatal crashes and it was mostly blamed on the company’s fancy new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. Specifically, the software acted on erroneous sensor data, forcing the plane’s nose to dip despite pilots’ frantic attempts to course correct. One of the earlier leaked fixes to the system was the use of two sets of sensors but now insiders are claiming there will be another computer as well.
The second computer will act as a redundancy system as well as a check for the other computer. In case the first computer malfunctions, the second can take over. But more importantly, the new software will also alert pilots if the two computers are reporting conflicting data.
The sources also say that Boeing is “softening” the system’s nose down push. One of the reported causes of the fatal crashes was that the automated system didn’t allow pilots to regain manual control over the plane despite the errors. In the future, should things still go wrong, pilots will at least be able to overpower the MCAS.
The new software changes and the additional computer was made after the US Federal Aviation Administration pointed out problems in Boeing’s fixes. That won’t be enough to let the 737 Max fly again, though, as other countries have to do their own reviews. Given that the FAA itself is being blamed for negligence, its standards and tests might be held suspect as well.