Tag Archives: Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing recommends operators of some 737 MAX airplanes temporarily remove them from service to address a potential electrical issue

Boeing has issued a recommendation to 16 customers (including American, Southwest and United) to remove and inspect certain Boeing 737 MAX aircraft due to a “potential electrical issue”. This is apparently due to a production issue when the aircraft were built.

The FAA issued this statement:

Boeing recommends operators of some 737 MAX airplanes temporarily remove them from service to address a potential electrical issue. The FAA will ensure the issue is addressed. Passengers should contact airlines about possible flight delays and cancellations.

Boeing issued this statement:

Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations. The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.

We are working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on this production issue. We are also informing our customers of specific tail numbers affected and we will provide direction on appropriate corrective actions.

American Airlines has grounded 17 MAX aircraft.

American Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N378SC (msn 44471) BFI (Joe G. Walker). Image: 952213.

Above Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N378SC (msn 44471) BFI (Joe G. Walker). Image: 952213.

Southwest Airlines has removed 30 of its 58 MAX aircraft for inspections.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8701Q (msn 42554) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 953439.

Above Copyright Photo: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8701Q (msn 42554) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 953439.

United Airlines has grounded 16 of its 30 MAX aircraft according to USA Today.

United Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX 9 N1780B (N27520) (msn 64499) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 951068.

Above Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX 9 N1780B (N27520) (msn 64499) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 951068.

TUI fly Belgium to put the Boeing 737 MAX back into service

TUI fly Belgium (TUI Airlines Belgium) is planning to put its first grounded Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 (OO-MAX) back into revenue service tomorrow (February 17) from Brussels to Malaga and Alicante according to Belgium Airport.

TUI fly Belgium aircraft photo gallery:

TUI fly Belgium aircraft slide show:

UK Civil Aviation Authority clears Boeing 737 MAX for return to service

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that it will allow UK airlines to operate passenger flights with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, subject to close oversight. The ban on the aircraft operating in UK airspace will also be removed.  The changes come into effect today. It follows similar decisions by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada.

The decision follows the approval of design modifications to the aircraft itself, how it is flown, and to pilot training.  This has included modification to the aircraft’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and other key safety changes aimed at preventing further accidents. The CAA has been closely involved in this approval work and the extensive process undertaken by all involved.

The CAA is in close contact with TUI, currently the only UK operator of the aircraft, as it returns its aircraft to service. As part of this we will have full oversight of the airline’s plans including its pilot training programs and implementation of the required aircraft modifications.

The removal of the airspace ban will allow foreign operators to fly the Boeing 737 MAX in UK airspace. All airlines, however, will need to go through the necessary steps to return the aircraft to service, including pilot training, so this may result in flights of the type into the UK not being seen immediately.

The aircraft was grounded following two tragic accidents (Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019). The UK was one of the first countries to act, preventing the aircraft from using its airspace.

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Our thoughts remain with those affected by the tragic accidents of the Boeing 737 MAX. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we would not have allowed a return to service for UK operators, or lifted the ban on the aircraft operating in UK airspace, unless we were satisfied that the aircraft type is airworthy and can be operated safely. The international work to return the Boeing 737 MAX to the skies has been the most extensive project of this kind ever undertaken in civil aviation and shows how important the cooperation between states and regulators is to maintaining safety.”

The CAA has based its decision to allow a return to service on detailed information from EASA, the FAA and Boeing, in addition to extensive engagement with airline operators and pilot representative organizations. The CAA worked alongside EASA, as our technical agent, reviewing its work as the validating authority. During this process the UK has been fully sighted on the technical assurance activity conducted by EASA. Additionally, the UK participated in pilot training forums and simulator evaluations.

Notes:

TUI has six 737 MAX aircraft on the UK register.

The main modifications to the aircraft that allow a safe return to service are:

  • Flight Control Computer (FCC) software changes, so that both of the aircraft’s Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor inputs are used by the aircraft systems (rather than previously one)
  • safeguards against MCAS activating unnecessarily, due to a failed or erroneous AoA sensor
  • removal of the MCAS repeat command
  • revised limits on the MCAS command authority
  • revisions to flight crew procedures and training requirements
  • implementation of an AoA ‘disagree’ alert indication that would appear on the pilots’ primary flight displays
  • cross FCC trim monitoring, to detect and shutdown erroneous pitch trim commands

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for the initial type certification (approval) of the Boeing 737 MAX as it is designed in the USA, and it is the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that validates this certification across the EU.

EASA declares Boeing 737 MAX safe to return to service in Europe

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave its seal of approval for the return to service of a modified version of the Boeing 737 MAX, mandating a package of software upgrades, electrical wiring rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training which will allow the plane to fly safely in European skies after almost two years on the ground.

“We have reached a significant milestone on a long road,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can safely return to service. This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure – we asked difficult questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions which satisfied our exacting safety requirements.  We carried out our own flight tests and simulator sessions and did not rely on others to do this for us.

“Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here,” he added. “We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service. In parallel, and at our insistence, Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety.”

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following the second of two accidents within just six months, which together claimed 346 lives. The root cause of these tragic accidents was traced to software known as the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), intended to make the plane easier to handle. However, the MCAS, guided by only one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, kicked in repeatedly if that sensor malfunctioned, pushing the nose of the aircraft downward multiple times. In both accidents, pilots finally lost control of their plane, resulting in a crash with total loss of aircraft.

EASA’s conditions for Return to Service now met

In the days after the grounding, EASA set four conditions for the return to service of the aircraft:

  • The two accidents (JT610 and ET302) are deemed sufficiently understood
  • Design changes proposed by Boeing to address the issues highlighted by the accidents are EASA approved and their embodiment is mandated
  • An  independent extended design review has been completed by EASA 
  • Boeing 737 MAX flight crews have been adequately trained

“These four conditions have now all been met, allowing us to go ahead with the return to service,” Ky said.

To enhance transparency, a closing report released by the Agency explains its approach and the reasoning for its decisions.

While the investigations assessed that the behaviour of the MCAS and related alerting systems were the clear main cause of the two crashes, EASA rapidly realised that a far wider review of the 737 MAX was needed. EASA therefore extended its analysis to the entire flight control system. With a particular focus on the human factors – the actual experience for a pilot of flying the plane.

This extended review, conducted in close cooperation with FAA as primary certification authority, and with Boeing as manufacturer, continued to evolve over the course of the 20-month exercise. Its findings led to the definition of the broad package of actions specified in the Airworthiness Directive.

“The mandated actions need to be seen as a complete package which together ensure the aircraft’s safety,” Ky said. “This is not just about changes to the design of the aircraft: every individual 737 MAX pilot needs to undergo a once-off special training, including simulator training, to ensure that they are fully familiar with the redesigned 737 MAX and trained to handle specific scenarios which may arise in flight. This will be reinforced by recurrent training to ensure the knowledge is kept fresh.”

EASA has also agreed with Boeing that the manufacturer will work to even further increase the resilience of the aircraft systems to AoA sensor failures so as to further enhance the safety of the aircraft. Boeing will also conduct a complementary Human Factor assessment of its crew alerting system within the next 12 months, with the aim of identifying the need for longer term improvements.

Resumption of flights in Europe

The Airworthiness Directive, which details the aircraft and operational suitability changes, including crew training requirements, must be carried out before each individual plane returns to service, gives the green light from the EASA side for a return to service of the aircraft.

However, scheduling of these mandated actions is a matter for the aircraft operators, under the oversight of Member States’ national aviation authorities, meaning that the actual return to service may take some time. COVID-19 may also have an influence on the pace of return to commercial operations.

In conjunction with the Airworthiness Directive, EASA also issued a Safety Directive (SD) requiring non-European airlines which are holders of EASA third country operator (TCO) authorisation to implement equivalent requirements, including aircrew training. This will allow for the return to service of the 737 MAX when the aircraft concerned are operated under an EASA TCO authorisation into, within or out of the territory of the EASA Member States.

Additional information

In summary, the EASA Airworthiness Directive mandates the following main actions:

  • Software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS
  • Software updates to display an alert in case of disagreement between the two AoA sensors
  • Physical separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabiliser trim motor
  • Updates to flight manuals: operational limitations and improved procedures to equip pilots to understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios
  • Mandatory training for all 737 MAX pilots before they fly the plane again, and updates of the initial and recurrent training of pilots on the MAX
  • Tests of systems including the AoA sensor system
  • An operational readiness flight, without passengers, before commercial usage of each aircraft to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage.

For details, see the text of the Airworthiness Directive (AD).

EASA, and regulators in Canada and Brazil, worked closely with the FAA and Boeing throughout the last 20 months to return the plane safely to operations. These three authorities have already approved the aircraft for the return to service.

The EASA AD requires the same physical changes to the aircraft as the FAA, meaning that there will be no software or technical differences between the aircraft operated by the United States operators and by the EASA member states operators (the 27 European Union members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). Following the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is now responsible for clearing the aircraft to operate to/from and within the U.K as well as for U.K. operators.

However, EASA’s requirements differ from the FAA in two main respects. EASA explicitly allows flight crews to intervene to stop a stick shaker from continuing to vibrate once it has been erroneously activated by the system, to prevent this distracting the crew. EASA also, for the time being, mandates that certain types of high-precision landings cannot be performed. The latter is expected to be a short-term restriction. The mandated training for pilots is broadly the same for both authorities.

Some EASA member states issued their own decision prohibiting the operation of the 737 MAX last year for their sovereign airspace. These bans will need to be lifted before the aircraft can fly again in the airspace of these countries.  EASA is working closely with the relevant national authorities to achieve this.

During the 28-day public consultation, comments on the AD were received from 38 commenters. These have all been responded to in the Comment Response Document published with the AD. For the SD, there were 6 commenters. Responses to these comments can be found on the Comment Response Document published with the SD.  In summary, the comments resulted in some minor changes to the texts, such as corrections to typing errors, updated document references and clarifications required by the commenters. There were no substantive changes made to the actions that need to be implemented.

EASA lays out tougher conditions for the return of Boeing 737 MAX in Europe

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a Proposed Airworthiness Directive (PAD) concerning the Boeing 737 MAX for public consultation, signalling its intention to approve the aircraft to return to Europe’s skies within a matter of weeks.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded by EASA on March 12, 2019, following two accidents with total loss of aircraft in which 346 people died. Intense work involving the dedicated attention from around 20 EASA experts over a period of around 20 months has now given EASA the confidence to declare the aircraft will be safe to fly again. The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA), State of Design for Boeing aircraft, published its final approval of the modified 737 MAX in the Federal Register on November 20, 2020.

“EASA made clear from the outset that we would conduct our own objective and independent assessment of the 737 MAX, working closely with the FAA and Boeing, to make sure that there can be no repeat of these tragic accidents, which touched the lives of so many people,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky.

“I am confident that we have left no stone unturned in our assessment of the aircraft with its changed design approach,” he added. “Each time when it may have appeared that problems were resolved, we dug deeper and asked even more questions. The result was a thorough and comprehensive review of how this plane flies and what it is like for a pilot to fly the MAX, giving us the assurance that it is now safe to fly.”

Investigations into the two accidents showed that a primary cause in each was a software function programme known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was intended to make the aircraft easier to handle. However, the MCAS, guided by only one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, kicked in repeatedly if that sensor malfunctioned, pushing the nose of the aircraft downward multiple times and leading finally in both accidents to a complete loss of control of the aircraft.

“EASA’s review of the 737 MAX began with the MCAS but went far beyond,” Ky said. “We took a decision early on to review the entire flight control system and gradually broadened our assessment to include all aspects of design which could influence how the flight controls operated. This led, for example, to a deeper study of the wiring installation, which resulted in a change that is now also mandated in the Proposed Airworthiness Directive. We also pushed the aircraft to its limits during flight tests, assessed the behaviour of the aircraft in failure scenarios, and could confirm that the aircraft is stable and has no tendency to pitch-up even without the MCAS.”

Human factor analysis was another focus area – to ensure that the pilots were provided with the right alerts in the cockpit if a problem arose, along with the procedures and training needed to know how to respond. A fundamental problem of the original MCAS is that many pilots did not even know it was there. In the accident version of the aircraft, there was no caution light to make a pilot aware that the AoA sensor was faulty, making it almost impossible to determine the root cause of the problem.

That is why EASA now proposes that the changes to the aircraft design which will be required by the final Airworthiness Directive will be accompanied by a mandatory training program for pilots, including flight simulator training, to ensure that the pilots are familiar with all aspects of the flight control system of the 737 MAX and will react appropriately to typical failure scenarios. 

The EASA Proposed Airworthiness Directive is now open for a 28-day consultation period. Once that ends, EASA will take time to review the comments made, before publishing its final Airworthiness Directive. That final publication is expected from mid-January 2021 and will constitute the formal ungrounding decision of the plane for all 737 MAX aircraft operated by operators from EASA Member States. After the return to service, EASA has committed to monitor the plane closely in-service, to allow for early detection of any problems that may arise.

In conjunction with the Proposed Airworthiness Directive, EASA also issued a Preliminary Safety Directive for 28-day consultation. This will require non-European airlines which are holders of EASA third country operator (TCO) authorisation to implement equivalent requirements, including aircrew training. This will allow for the return to service of the 737 MAX when the aircraft concerned are operated under an EASA TCO authorisation into, within or out of the territory of the EASA Member States.

Additional information
In summary, the EASA Proposed Airworthiness Directive mandates the following main actions: 

  • Software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS
  • Software updates to display an alert in case of disagreement between the two AoA sensors
  • Physical separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabiliser trim motor
  • Updates to flight manuals: operational limitations and improved procedures to equip pilots to understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios
  • Mandatory training for all 737 MAX pilots before they fly the plane again, and updates of the initial and recurrent training of pilots on the MAX
  • Tests of systems including the AoA sensor system
  • An operational readiness flight, without passengers, before commercial usage of each aircraft to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage. 

For details, see the text of the Proposed Airworthiness Directive.

EASA, and regulators in Canada and Brazil, worked closely with the FAA and Boeing throughout the last 20 months to return the plane safely to operations.

The EASA Proposed Airworthiness Directive requires the same changes to the aircraft as the FAA, meaning that there will be no software or technical differences between the aircraft operated by the United States operators and by the EASA member states operators (the 27 European Union members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is until December 31, 2020 also treated as an EU member state.)

However, EASA’s requirements differ from the FAA in two main respects. EASA explicitly allows flight crews to intervene to stop a stick shaker from continuing to vibrate once it has been erroneously activated by the system, to prevent this distracting the crew. EASA also, for the time being, mandates that the aircraft’s autopilot should not be used for certain types of high-precision landings. The latter is expected to be a short-term restriction.

The mandated training for pilots is broadly the same for both authorities.

Before individual airlines can assign the plane to their flight schedules, they will need to complete all the software upgrades and maintenance actions described in the final Airworthiness Directive. They also need to train their 737 MAX pilots. As there are only a limited number of simulators, this may take some time to schedule. Some of this work can be started now, even in advance of the final Airworthiness Directive publication.

Some EASA member states issued their own decision prohibiting the operation of the 737 MAX last year for their sovereign airspace. These bans will need to be lifted before the aircraft can fly again in the airspace of these countries.  EASA is working closely with the relevant national authorities to achieve this.

EASA has also agreed with Boeing that the manufacturer will work to even further increase the resilience of the aircraft systems to AoA sensor failures so as to further enhance the safety of the aircraft. Boeing will also conduct a complementary Human Factor assessment of its crew alerting systems within the next 12 months, with the aim of potentially upgrading these to a more modern design approach.

Boeing responds to FAA approval to resume 737 MAX operations

Boeing issued this statement (note: Boeing is no longer using the MAX term in the designation):

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today rescinded the order that halted commercial operations of Boeing 737-8s and 737-9s. The move will allow airlines that are under the FAA’s jurisdiction, including those in the U.S., to take the steps necessary to resume service and Boeing to begin making deliveries.

“We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations,” said David Calhoun, chief executive officer of The Boeing Company. “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.”

Throughout the past 20 months, Boeing has worked closely with airlines, providing them with detailed recommendations regarding long-term storage and ensuring their input was part of the effort to safely return the airplanes to service.

An Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA spells out the requirements that must be met before U.S. carriers can resume service, including installing software enhancements, completing wire separation modifications, conducting pilot training and accomplishing thorough de-preservation activities that will ensure the airplanes are ready for service.

“The FAA’s directive is an important milestone,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”

In addition to changes made to the airplane and pilot training, Boeing has taken three important steps to strengthen its focus on safety and quality.

  1. Organizational Alignment: More than 50,000 engineers have been brought together in a single organization that includes a new Product & Services Safety unit, unifying safety responsibilities across the company.
  2. Cultural Focus: Engineers have been further empowered to improve safety and quality. The company is identifying, diagnosing and resolving issues with a higher level of transparency and immediacy.
  3. Process Enhancements: By adopting next-generation design processes, the company is enabling greater levels of first-time quality.

House Final Committee Report on the Boeing 737 MAX

Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA) one September 16, 2020 released the Committee’s final report on the Boeing 737 MAX. This report, prepared by Majority Staff, lays out the serious flaws and missteps in the design, development, and certification of the aircraft, which entered commercial service in 2017 before suffering two deadly crashes within five months of each other that killed a total of 346 people, including eight Americans.

The Committee’s 238-page report, which points to repeated and serious failures by both The Boeing Company (Boeing) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), contains five central themes and includes more than six dozen investigative findings. These themes include:

  • Production pressures that jeopardized the safety of the flying public. There was tremendous financial pressure on Boeing and the 737 MAX program to compete with Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft. Among other things, this pressure resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 MAX program schedule, and avoid slowing the 737 MAX production line.
  • Faulty Design and Performance Assumptions. Boeing made fundamentally faulty assumptions about critical technologies on the 737 MAX, most notably with MCAS, the software designed to automatically push the airplane’s nose down in certain conditions. Boeing also expected that pilots, who were largely unaware that MCAS existed, would be able to mitigate any potential malfunction.
  • Culture of Concealment. Boeing withheld crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and 737 MAX pilots, including internal test data that revealed it took a Boeing test pilot more than 10 seconds to diagnose and respond to uncommanded MCAS activation in a flight simulator, a condition the pilot described as “catastrophic.” Federal guidelines assume pilots will respond to this condition within four seconds.
  • Conflicted Representation. The FAA’s current oversight structure with respect to Boeing creates inherent conflicts of interest that have jeopardized the safety of the flying public. The report documents multiple instances in which Boeing employees who have been authorized to perform work on behalf of the FAA failed to alert the FAA to potential safety and/or certification issues.
  • Boeing’s Influence Over the FAA’s Oversight Structure. Multiple career FAA officials have documented examples where FAA management overruled a determination of the FAA’s own technical experts at the behest of Boeing. These examples are consistent with results of a recent draft FAA employee “safety culture” survey that showed many FAA employees believed its senior leaders are more concerned with helping industry achieve its goals and are not held accountable for safety-related decisions.

“Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing—under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street—escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people. What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes,” Chair DeFazio said. “On behalf of the families of the victims of both crashes, as well as anyone who steps on a plane expecting to arrive at their destination safely, we are making this report public to put a spotlight not only on the broken safety culture at Boeing but also the gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally-flawed plane into service. Critically, our report gives Congress a roadmap on the steps we must take to reinforce aviation safety and regulatory transparency, increase Federal oversight, and improve corporate accountability to help ensure the story of the Boeing 737 MAX is never, ever repeated.”

“The Committee’s thorough investigation uncovered errors that are difficult to hear, but necessary to confront about the 737 MAX certification,” Chair Larsen said. “This report, combined with the findings and recommendations from the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines investigations, National Transportation Safety Board, Joint Authorities Technical Review and other entities, serve as a roadmap for changes to the FAA certification process. The 346 victims of the two tragic crashes and their families, as well as the traveling public rightfully expect Congress to act. As the Committee moves into the next phase of oversight, I will continue to work with Chair DeFazio and my colleagues to address the significant cultural and structural deficiencies identified in the report in order to improve safety.”

Additional information:

At the direction of Chair DeFazio and Subcommittee Chair Larsen, the Committee launched an investigation into the design, development, and certification of the 737 MAX, and related issues, in March 2019, shortly after the second crash involving a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As part of the 18-month long investigation, the Committee held five public hearings with more than 20 witnesses; wrote nearly two dozen oversight letters, obtained an estimated 600,000 pages of documents from Boeing, the FAA, and others; received information and insight from former and current employees who contacted the Committee directly through the Committee’s whistleblower link; and interviewed dozens of current and former Boeing and FAA employees.

To access the Final Report, newly released accompanying records, including transcribed interviews of both senior Boeing and FAA officials about the 737 MAX, as well as past statements, hearing video, and more, click here.

Boeing Statement on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Report on 737 MAX

Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the Committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019. We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public. The passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, as well as their loved ones, continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Multiple committees, experts, and governmental authorities have examined issues related to the MAX, and we have incorporated many of their recommendations, as well as the results of our own internal reviews, into the 737 MAX and the overall airplane design process. The revised design of the MAX has received intensive internal and regulatory review, including more than 375,000 engineering and test hours and 1,300 test flights. Once the FAA and other regulators have determined the MAX can safely return to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly scrutinized aircraft in history, and we have full confidence in its safety. We have also taken steps to bolster safety across our company, consulting outside experts and learning from best practices in other industries. We have set up a new safety organization to enhance and standardize safety practices, restructured our engineering organization to give engineers a stronger voice and a more direct line to share concerns with top management, created a permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of our Board of Directors as well as expanded the role of the Safety Promotion Center.

We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made.  As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve. Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work.

For more information on steps Boeing is taking to strengthen safety, visit our 2020 Proxy Statement and our 737 MAX Resources Page.

Reuters: FAA proposes requiring key Boeing 737 MAX design changes

From Reuters:

“The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday it is proposing requiring four key Boeing 737 MAX design changes to address safety issues seen in two crashes that killed 346 people and led to the plane’s grounding in March 2019.

The agency is issuing a proposed airworthiness directive to require updated flight-control software, revised display-processing software to generate alerts, revising certain flight-crew operating procedures, and changing the routing of some wiring bundles.”

Read the full report.

Spirit AeroSystems furloughs 900 employees due to Boeing order to slow MAX production

Spirit AeroSystems made this announcement:

On June 4, 2020, Spirit AeroSystems received a letter from Boeing directing Spirit to pause additional work on four 737 MAX shipsets and avoid starting production on sixteen 737 MAX shipsets to be delivered in 2020, until otherwise directed by Boeing, in order to support Boeing’s alignment of near-term delivery schedules to its customers’ needs in light of COVID-19’s impact on air travel and airline operations, and in order to mitigate the expenditure of potential unnecessary production costs.

Based on the information in the letter, subsequent correspondence from Boeing dated June 9, 2020, and Spirit’s discussions with Boeing regarding 2020 737 MAX production, Spirit believes there will be a reduction to Spirit’s previously disclosed 2020 737 MAX production plan of 125 shipsets. Spirit does not yet have definitive information on what the magnitude of the reduction will be but expects it will be more than 20 shipsets.

The 737 MAX grounding coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging, dynamic and evolving situation. During this time, Spirit plans to work with Boeing to determine a definitive production plan for 2020 and manage the 737 MAX production system and supply chain.

Due to the matters described above, Spirit has elected to place certain Wichita hourly employees directly associated with production work and support functions for the 737 MAX program on a 21 calendar day unpaid temporary layoff/furlough effective Monday, June 15. In addition, Spirit will declare an immediate reduction of the hourly workforce in Tulsa and McAlester, Okla., effective Friday, June 12.

Nearly one year after launching its Boeing 737 MAX investigation, House Transportation Committee issues preliminary investigative findings

On March 6, 2020, nearly one year after launching its investigation into the design, development, and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Majority Staff released its preliminary investigative findings.

The Boeing 737 MAX, which was certified by the FAA and entered revenue service in 2017, was involved in two fatal crashes within five months of each other that killed a total of 346 people, including 8 Americans. The aircraft remains grounded worldwide.

Copyright Photo: 737s in storage at Victorville, CA (Rainer Bexten).

The Committee’s preliminary findings, titled “The Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft: Costs, Consequences, and Lessons from its Design, Development, and Certification,” outlines technical design failures on the aircraft and Boeing’s lack of transparency with aviation regulators and its customers as well as Boeing’s efforts to obfuscate information about the operation of the aircraft.

The Committee’s investigation, as detailed in the preliminary findings, focuses on five main areas:

  • Production pressures on Boeing employees that jeopardized aviation safety;
  • Boeing’s faulty assumptions about critical technologies, most notably regarding the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS;
  • Boeing’s concealment of crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and pilots;
  • Inherent conflicts of interest among authorized representatives, or ARs, who are Boeing employees authorized to perform certification work on behalf of the FAA; and
  • Boeing’s influence over the FAA’s oversight that resulted in FAA management rejecting safety concerns raised by the agency’s own technical experts at the behest of Boeing.

To read the preliminary findings and see specific examples from the Committee’s investigation, click here.

“Our Committee’s investigation will continue for the foreseeable future, as there are a number of leads we continue to chase down to better understand how the system failed so horribly. But after nearly 12 months of reviewing internal documents and conducting interviews, our Committee has been able to bring into focus the multiple factors that allowed an unairworthy airplane to be put into service, leading to the tragic and avoidable deaths of 346 people,” Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “As we release this report to lay out our findings to date, my thoughts are with the families of the victims. Our search for answers continues on their behalf and for everyone who boards an airplane. The public deserves peace of mind that safety is always the top priority for everyone who has a role in our aviation system.”

“Nearly one year ago, the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 tragedy devastated families and communities across the globe. The victims of this tragedy and Lion Air Flight 610, their families, as well as the traveling public, rightfully expect Congress to act,” Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA) said. “The Committee’s preliminary investigative findings, combined with the findings and recommendations from the Lion Air investigation, National Transportation Safety Board, Joint Authorities Technical Review and other entities, makes it abundantly clear Congress must change the method by which the FAA certifies aircraft. As Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I will work with Chair DeFazio and the Committee to address the issues identified in the certification process to improve safety, including the integration of human factors in aircraft certification. As the Committee enters the next phase of its oversight investigation, I will continue to keep the victims and their families at the forefront.”

In the coming weeks, Chairs DeFazio and Larsen intend to introduce legislation that will address failures in the certification process uncovered by the Committee’s investigation.

Background: As part of its ongoing investigation, the Committee has held five public hearings with more than a dozen witnesses; obtained hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Boeing, the FAA, and others involved in the aircraft’s design; heard from numerous whistleblowers who contacted the Committee directly; and interviewed dozens of former and current employees of both Boeing and the FAA. For information on past hearings, statements, and documents, click here.