The software fix for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft has been delayed for several weeks as an internal Boeing review of the update recommended additional changes.
Boeing 737 MAX 8 Software Update Delayed
The delay of the software update for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 comes after nearly all 737 MAX 8s were grounded around the world last month following the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 out of Addis Ababa.
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The Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board, was the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in less than six months. The company has maintained that the planes are safe and that the software updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) are in no way an admission by Boeing that this software system was at fault in either crash.
Still, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators around the world—nearly all of whom grounded the 737 MAX 8 aircraft days before the FAA did the same—are not allowing the aircraft to fly again until the updates are installed. Boeing had initially announced last week that their software fix was ready and had hoped to have the software approved by the FAA as early as this week, but this appears to no longer be the case.
According to a report in the New York Times, a part of the process is Boeing’s non-advocate review, where Boeing employees who were not a part of the development of the software fix verify the work ahead of the FAA submission. Apparently, something about this review triggered the delay, though it is not known what changes to the MCAS update caused them to raise an objection.
Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Statements Confirm Delay
On Monday, the FAA put out a statement confirming the delay.
“The FAA expects to receive Boeing’s final package of its software enhancement over the coming weeks for FAA approval,” the statement said. “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. 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 FAA itself had been criticized in the United States and abroad for appearing to resist grounding the aircraft out of favoritism for an American company, while the FAA—who initially insisted that they had not seen anything that justified grounding the plane—says that unlike the rest of the world, they waited for data pointing to a problem in the MCAS before rushing to judgment.
The US aviation authority's reputation has still been tarnished by the episode though, so it is likely to be especially stringent when it comes to approving Boeing’s fix.
Boeing, for its part, put out a statement as well: “Boeing continues to work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies worldwide on the development and certification of the MCAS software update and training program,” it said.
“We are working to demonstrate that we have identified and appropriately addressed all certification requirements and will be submitting for F.A.A. review once completed in the coming weeks.”