Boeing CEO links unintended MCAS activation to 737 MAX accidents

Boeing CEO links unintended MCAS activation to 737 MAX accidents

Boeing CEO links unintended MCAS activation to 737 MAX accidents

United States planemaker Boeing admitted on Thursday that its 737 MAX passenger jet has another software error in addition to the one implicated in two major crashes in recent months.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg apologized Thursday for the 346 lives lost in crashes of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia, according to a letter made public on the company's website.

The statement came after Ethiopian officials releasing the preliminary report on the March 10 accident said the plane received repeated nose-down commands.

It has also brought uncomfortable scrutiny over new software, pilot training and regulatory rigour.

Boeing's checklist for pilots tells them to "control airplane pitch attitude manually with control column and main electric trim as needed" before hitting cut-out switches and turning to a rarely used manual wheel to keep the plane's nose in the proper position.

"We're taking a comprehensive, disciplined approach, and taking the time to get the software update right", Muilenburg said.

In the claim filed with the FAA, the Stumo family said the agency is "equally culpable" with Boeing.

It was, he said, "apparent" that in both the Ethiopia and Indonesia flights, the software for the anti-stall system - or MCAS - was "activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information".

Boeing's apology for the Ethiopian Airlines crash last month is "too little, too late", the pilot's father has told the BBC. But most are Max planes.

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Boeing is continuing to work on a fix for the flight-control systems on the MAX 8 planes.

The Ethiopian Airlines pilots initially followed the advice to shut off the MCAS anti-stall system but later reversed the command counter to guidance at a time when they were traveling beyond maximum operating speeds, according to data contained in a preliminary report released on Thursday and experts on the jet.

The report says that while trying to follow Boeing's directions, about three minutes into the flight, the two pilots found that the manual system for moving the horizontal tail - also known as the stabilizer - "was not working". The complaint named Boeing and Rosemount Aerospace, the manufacturer of the angle of attack sensor, as defendants.

"We remain confident in the fundamental safety of the 737 MAX".

Mr Muilenburg, in his statement, noted that full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports very soon. Twenty seconds later it went off again, throwing the plane into a steep nose dive.

Upcoming software updates to its automated control system will make it "among the safest airplanes ever to fly", Muilenburg said.

"The preliminary report clearly showed that the Ethiopian Airlines Pilots... have followed Boeing's recommended and FAA's approved emergency procedures to handle the most hard emergency situation created on the airplane", the statement read.

In line with worldwide rules on air accidents, the preliminary report did not attribute blame. On March 27, Boeing executives in Renton, WA showcased the new system, which is, "designed to prevent MCAS from overreacting, and new visual alerts to make pilots aware of potentially risky situations", according to The Washington Post.

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