Boeing 737 MAX: Company reveals new software problem detected in jets which ‘must be fixed before planes can fly’
Boeing has reportedly revealed its troubled 737 MAX jets are suffering from an additional software problem that regulators say must be fixed before the planes can be cleared to fly again.
As investigators in Ethiopia said a preliminary examination suggested the Boeing jet that crashed last month with the deaths of 157 passengers and crew was struck by excessive speed and was forced downwards by a wrongly-triggered automation system, new problems emerged for the airline back home in Seattle.
The Washington Post said a review by Boeing of the stall prevention system suspected of being behind the Ethiopian Airlines and a crash last year in Indonesia, had detected an “additional software problem”. It said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had ordered the problem be addressed before the plane would be cleared for flying.
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It said the company termed the problem “relatively minor” and was not related to the anti-stall system.
However, it is another headache for company, struggling to respond to the global grounding of the jet with which it intended to compete with rival, Airbus.
Boeing’s CEO has apologised for the deaths and vowed to get to the bottom of what caused the incidents.
“We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. I cannot remember a more heart-wrenching time in my career with this great company.” chief executive Dennis Muilenburg wrote.
He said the release of the preliminary report in Ethiopia showed it was apparent that in both the crash in Africa, and Indonesia, the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.
“The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents,” he wrote.
“As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.”
Boeing did not immediately respond to enquiries about the report of a new software problem.
In a statement, the FAA told The Independent: “The FAA expects to receive Boeing’s final package of its software enhancement over the coming weeks for FAA approval. Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX Flight Control System to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues.
It added: “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.”
The probe in Ethiopia found that pilot Yared Getachew, cried “pull up” three times before the plane crashed into a field six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10.
“The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft,” transport minister Dagmawit Moges told a news conference, according to Reuters.
The preliminary report into the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX in Indonesia suggested pilots also lost control after grappling with the MCAS software. A total of 189 passengers and crew lost their lives in that crash last October.