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

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

The first pages of the book, by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Devin Dreeshen. (Photo Submitted)
Ag Minister announces 20% off crop insurance for Alberta farmers

Dreeshen says this will support job creators and boosting rural economy during a difficult time

An x-ray tech demonstrates the new equipment in use. (Photo Submitted)
New diagnostic equipment now operational at Sylvan Lake AACS

In August it was announced that Stephen and Jacqueline Wuori donated $850,000 to AACS

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

Art Kempf, originally from the Stettler area but now living in Lacombe, is pictured here with his late wife Lillian. Art’s 100th birthday is coming up on Feb. 22nd.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf will be celebrating a very special day next month

Kempf, now a Lacombe resident, marks his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics
*MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

Most Read