FAA spells out design changes needed in grounded Boeing jet

FAA spells out design changes needed in grounded Boeing jet

Federal regulators said Monday they will require several design changes to the Boeing 737 Max to fix safety issues that arose in two deadly crashes and led to the worldwide grounding of the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed software change requirements in the flight-control computers, new alerts to pilots under some conditions, and the rerouting of some wiring on the planes.

The proposed changes deal with issues that mostly have been raised before. The public will have 45 days to comment on the FAA’s decision.

It is not clear when the FAA will lift its March 2019 order grounding all Max jets, which followed similar orders by regulators in the rest of the world. Boeing officials said last week they hope to win regulatory approval to resume deliveries of completed Max jets in the fourth quarter of this year.

“We’re continuing to make steady progress towards the safe return to service, working closely with the FAA and other global regulators,” said Boeing spokesman Bernard Choi. “While we still have a lot of work in front of us, this is an important milestone in the certification process.”

Airlines began using the Max in 2017. There were nearly 400 in service when the planes were grounded after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died. Investigators have pointed to the role played by flight-control software that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty sensor readings.

The FAA has been harshly criticized by families of the passengers killed in the crashes and by members of Congress, who have found fault in the agency’s original decision to certify the Max. In Monday’s proposed airworthiness directive and an accompanying 95-page report, the FAA detailed how it identified and responded to safety problems that became evident from investigations into the crashes.

The FAA plans to require changes to a flight-control system called MCAS to prevent it from misfiring and make it less powerful so that pilots can respond if it mistakenly pushes the plane’s nose down. Pilots – who didn’t know about MCAS until after the first crash – would also receive more training.

The agency said that when its work is done, “the 737 MAX will be safe to operate and meet FAA certification standards.”

The Max was once Boeing’s bestselling plane, but the crashes and subsequent grounding turned it into a disaster to the company’s reputation and finances. Internal emails showed employees worrying about safety and bragging about deceiving regulators. Surveys show a significant number of travellers are hesitant about flying on the plane.

Max-related costs drove Boeing to a $636 million loss last year, the first since 1997. So far this year, Boeing has suffered 382 order cancellations and dropped another 323 from its backlog because the sales are uncertain. Almost all were Max orders.

Many airlines have stood by Boeing and the Max, however. Southwest, Boeing’s biggest customer, is still committed to the plane and looks forward to its return, airline CEO Gary Kelly said last month. Boeing paid Southwest $428 million in compensation last year over the Max grounding.

___

David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

David Koenig, The Associated Press

Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Most Read