The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released a “ preliminary summary ” of its 18-month evaluation of the Boeing 737 Max program, detailing the remaining steps that the company will likely need to take to return the aircraft to the Boeing 737 Max program. sky. One of the changes the agency is requesting is new software for the flight control computer and displays of the aircraft, a revised manual and improved flight crew training and new maintenance procedures. However, a number of important points have not yet been completed, such as completing a new pilot training process.
The FAA has made the changes in both the 96-page summary and in a notification of proposed regulations published on Monday. The public has 45 days to respond before the agency officially requires Boeing to make the changes. Only at the earliest would the FAA recertify the 737 Max, meaning the aircraft is likely to be months away from its entry into service.
The 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March 2019, after being involved in two fatalities that killed 346 people. One of the special problems that overcame both flights was a piece of software known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which was designed to prevent the aircraft from stalling in very specific takeoff situations. Using information from sensors on the outside of the aircraft, MCAS was able to tilt the nose of the aircraft downward if it thought it was angled too high.
A major problem with MCAS was that Boeing was hiding from them and the FAA in an effort to hide the lengthy and costly process of retraining pilots on this new piece of software. Another was that MCAS only retrieved data from one external sensor, meaning it could be led astray if that sensor was damaged. All this led to the pilots on both fatal flights trying to fix an issue they didn’t understand in their last moments.
The FAA says that the assessment involves “40 engineers, inspectors, pilots, and technical support personnel,” and more than 60,000 hours of “assessment, certification testing, and evaluation of relevant documents.” The FAA says it has analyzed more than 4,000 hours of Boeing flight and simulation tests and 50 hours of its own tests. The agency and company recently conducted field test flights in the Seattle, Washington, area for three days.