Boe­ing soft­ware fixes are weeks away

FAA says Max pack­age will get ‘rig­or­ous’ re­view

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Su­san Miller Con­tribut­ing: Chris Wood­yard and Jorge Or­tiz, USA TO­DAY

The FAA ex­pects to re­ceive the fi­nal pack­age for Boe­ing’s soft­ware im­prove­ments on the 737 Max air­craft in “com­ing weeks,” the agency said Mon­day – but will not ap­prove the fixes for in­stal­la­tion un­til a “rig­or­ous” re­view.

The state­ment comes as the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process for Boe­ing’s Max jet­lin­ers is un­der in­tense scru­tiny af­ter two ac­ci­dents that left 346 peo­ple dead.

Boe­ing last week pro­posed soft­ware up­grades to the Max air­craft that fo­cused on a flight con­trol sys­tem known as MCAS that is de­signed to keep the plane’s nose from pitch­ing up, which can re­sult in a deadly stall.

The sys­tem is at is­sue in the crash of Ethiopian Air­lines Flight 302 on March 10 and the crash of Lion Air Flight 610, which slammed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29.

“Time is needed for ad­di­tional work by Boe­ing as a re­sult of the on­go­ing re­view of the 737 Max Flight Con­trol Sys­tem to en­sure that Boe­ing has iden­ti­fied and ap­pro­pri­ately ad­dressed all per­ti­nent is­sues,” the FAA state­ment said. “Upon re­ceipt, the FAA will sub­ject Boe­ing’s com­pleted sub­mis­sion to a rig­or­ous safety re­view. The FAA will not ap­prove the soft­ware for in­stal­la­tion un­til the agency is sat­is­fied with the sub­mis­sion.”

Boe­ing, which pre­viewed the flight con­trol changes at its fa­cil­i­ties in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton, also has said it will re­quire more pi­lot train­ing.

The FAA state­ment comes as an ini­tial re­port on the Ethiopian crash was ex­pected within days. The two tragedies showed haunt­ing par­al­lels: Both flights ex­pe­ri­enced dras­tic speed fluc­tu­a­tions dur­ing as­cent, and each pi­lot made a fu­tile at­tempt to re­turn to the air­port a few min­utes af­ter take­off.

Ethiopian Air­lines CEO Te­wolde Ge­breMariam has said the stall pre­ven­tion sys­tem, a new fea­ture on the Max mod­els that was un­veiled in 2017, was ac­ti­vated on his com­pany’s doomed flight.

The Max air­craft have been grounded around the world since mid-March, and the FAA has been un­der fire for act­ing too slowly in park­ing the planes.

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