A few days after the Ethiopian accident, Boeing revealed that it is already working on an update to correct the main problem that prevents flying to the 737-MAX 8.
After the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which resulted in the death of 157 people and the eventual suspension of the 737-MAX 8, Boeing revealed that it will solve the problem of the aircraft by means of a software update.
An accident caused by the “MCAS”
A Wired report indicates that Boeing was aware of a problem that afflicted the 737 MAX after the first accident in Indonesia, in October 2018. The 737-MAX 8 of Lion Air crashed in the Java Sea because of a Failure in the Maneuver Characteristics Increase System – MCAS, in charge of preventing the stall of an aircraft.
The MCAS is an automated system that detects when there is a plane ascends at a greater angle without sufficient speed. To avoid loss, the MCAS uses the horizontal stabilizer of the tail to adjust the angle of the nose. The Lion Air accident was caused by an erroneous reading of the angle, which sent the plane to a halt despite the attempts of the pilots to regain control.
The MCAS was implemented in the 737-MAX 8, however, it did not have the proper documentation in the flight manual so it was impossible to deactivate it by the Lion Air pilots, who tried more than twenty times to level the nose before crashing.
A software update planned for MCAS
Boeing and the FAA learned of this and plans were revealed to launch a software update to correct the failure, along with training the pilots so they would know how to disable it in the event of a similar situation.
According to the company, this update was in development and they intended to launch it in April, then the accident of Ethiopian Airlines came.
Boeing was aware of this problem since November, however, the update has not yet been released. According to The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Elwell – administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – revealed that the closure of the US government affected software development.
Boeing development delayed
The closure of the American Government delayed the development of Boeing and the FAA The update, due to arrive in January, was delayed for weeks thanks to Donald Trump, who decided to close the US government as a measure of pressure to obtain the funds to build a border wall.
Now the FAA has said that this software upgrade for the Boeing 737-MAX 8 will arrive no later than April. The update will be accompanied by an Airworthiness Directive. These directives are intended to indicate the action necessary to correct a problem. The pilots have to be aware of when a serious fault occurs to take pertinent actions.
Although it is not confirmed that the MCAS was the culprit of the Ethiopian accident, Boeing has to hurry the development of this update, since several dozens of its 737 MAX 8 remain stationed at airports until further notice.
In summary: The aeronautical manufacturer Boeing will update the flight control software of its model 737 MAX aircraft to “make them even safer” before the month of April. The Federal Aviation Authority has placed this deadline.