Boeing has completed the software update for the Boeing 737 MAX. Engineers in Seattle completed the update yesterday following two crashes blamed on the aircraft’s MCAS system.
Boeing entered crisis mode over two months ago following a second crash of the Boeing 737 MAX. When both Boeing and the FAA refused to ground the aircraft, the world’s airlines and aviation authorities took things into their own hands. This means that the road to getting the Boeing 737 MAX recertified will be a long one. However, completing the software patch marks a huge milestone in this process.
The MCAS problem
The problem which Boeing needs to solve is the MCAS system. The Boeing 737 MAX has brand new engines, which are bigger and heavier than before. Unfortunately the original 737 design was not created to support such a large engine.
In order to attach the new, bigger engines, they were moved up and forward of where they should have been positioned. This made the aircraft nose heavy, which could pose a risk of stalling if the aircraft were to take a steep upward climb.
In order to minimise this risk, the MCAS was installed. The idea was that, if a climb of too great an angle was detected, the system would kick in to lower the aircraft nose and prevent a stall from happening. However, it is thought that the system malfunctioned in the case of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways disasters, erroneously forcing the nose downwards until the pilots lost control.
Boeing has spent the last couple of months frantically trying to fix the software which caused its aircraft to be grounded. While it’s not known exactly what changes have been built into the software fix, we can be sure it will come under close scrutiny before any MAX are allowed to fly commercially again.
Boeing has completed over 100 test flights of the new system, and are happy with the changes they have made. With the world watching Boeing, the company has to be certain they get this right. This brings us perfectly to what’s next for the software.
The next steps for the Boeing 737 MAX software
The next steps Boeing needs to take is to convince the world that they have fixed the 737 MAX. This is likely to be the hardest part in Boeing’s mission. The planemaker has to firstly convince the FAA that the aircraft is safe to fly. Next, the other major certifying authorities such as EASA will want to verify the FAA’s findings independently.
Arguably, the hardest audience to convince will be the passengers themselves. Given the constant stream of bad press that has accompanied the aircraft’s grounding, many passengers are understandably somewhat wary of flying it again. To combat this, President Trump suggested renaming the aircraft.
Would you fly on the Boeing 737 MAX again? Let us know in the comments!