In the aftermath of two fatal crashes in five months, Boeing has announced software changes for their now infamous 737 Max aircraft which it says will help prevent future accidents.
The 737 Max was grounded worldwide after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after take off, killing all 157 people on board, earlier this month. The crash came less than six months after Indonesian airline Lion Air also suffered a fatal crash just after take off, killing 189.
The system’s upgrade includes a free extra warning system for all 737 Max planes that was previously marketed as an expensive optional add-on. The safety feature is designed to alert pilots when sensors are producing contradictory readings, it was not included in either of the Boeing planes that crashed.
Investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the accidents, however initial findings suggest the Lion Air plane’s system malfunctioned and forced its nose down more than 20 times before it crashed. A preliminary report into the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy is expected later this week.
Boeing has redesigned the 737 Max’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) – which adjusts the tail to keep the plane’s nose level in flight – but says this is not an admission that the system was the cause of the crashes. It’s not yet known when the aircraft will be allowed to take to the sky again.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there are similarities between both crashes. Despite reports to the contrary the agency has not approved the software update because they have yet to receive the completed version. Boeing said they plan to submit the final software version to the FAA this week. It will need to go through the approval process before planes can fly again with the upgrade.