The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that it expects Boeing to submit the final software fixes for the 737 Max “over the comings weeks.”
“The FAA expects to receive Boeing’s final package of its software enhancement over the coming weeks for FAA approval,” the agency said in a statement. “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.”
Once Boeing’s submission is complete, the FAA is expected to conduct a review of the updated flight control system.
“The FAA will not approve the software for installation until the agency is satisfied with the submission,” the FAA said.
Until then, all 371 Boeing 737 Max airliners already in service will remain grounded.
Most of the software updates will be to the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
To fit the Max’s larger, more fuel-efficient engines, Boeing had to position the engine farther forward and up. This change disrupted the plane’s center of gravity and caused the Max to have a tendency to tip its nose upward during flight, increasing the likelihood of a stall. MCAS is designed to automatically counteract that tendency and point the nose of the plane downward when the plane’s angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor triggers a warning.
Initial reports from the Lion Air Flight JT610 investigation, however, indicate that a faulty AOA sensor reading may have triggered MCAS shortly after the flight took off. Observers fear Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 may have experienced a similar issue.
The updated software will “provide additional layers of protection if the AOA sensors provide erroneous data,” Boeing said in a press release last week. The updates are also geared toward reducing the workload on pilots during emergency situations.
Both Boeing and the FAA has come under increasing scrutiny over the flight certification of the Boeing 737 Max. On March 19, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced her agency’s intention to audit the 737 Max 8’s FAA certification process.
Last week, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Transportation confirmed that it has initiated the audit.
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