Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced on Twitter yesterday that the company has tested an updated MCAS software on the Boeing 737 MAX. Test pilots completed 120 737 MAX flights totaling 203 hours of airtime with the updated MCAS software, according to the company.
Boeing CEO: “We’re making steady progress”
Boeing’s CEO recorded a video from Boeing Field near Seattle, Washington. According to Dennis Muilenburg, the company is “making steady progress toward certification” of the updated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System – known as MCAS.
The automated MCAS system is believed to be responsible for two recent 737 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. A preliminary report from the March 10, 2019 Ethiopian crash said the 737 MAX 8 crashed after MCAS pushed the aircraft’s nose down. Ethiopian officials believe the pilots of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 followed the correct procedures and emergency checklist per Boeing’s guidelines.
85% of MAX operators have experienced the new software
According to the company’s latest update, 85% of the 50+ MAX operators worldwide have experienced the new MCAS software in flight simulators. Boeing did not specify which MAX operators have tested the new software, but the company did reiterate its progress in updating the system responsible for the two crashes.
The Boeing CEO recently flew on a 737 MAX test flight, where he personally experienced the updated software. “[I] saw firsthand this software, in its final form, operating as designed across a range of flight conditions,” the CEO added in his video address.
737 MAX fleets remain grounded worldwide
Boeing 737 MAX aircraft remain grounded worldwide, with over 50 airlines parking their entire fleets of brand new planes. US operators American and Southwest have each removed their 737 MAX 8 aircraft from flight schedules through August 2019.
Although Boeing has tested the updated MCAS software on over 100 flights, the company did not provide a timeline for FAA or EASA certification. The FAA stated yesterday the 737 MAX is “operationally suitable” but did not provide an exact date for when the aircraft can return to service.
United expects 737 MAX will fly this summer
In its first-quarter earnings call, United said it expects its fleet of 14 Boeing 737 MAX 9 will fly again sometime this summer. Currently, United has removed its MAX fleet from its schedule through July.
Chief Financial Officer Gerald Laderman said United will resume scheduled deliveries of the 16 MAX aircraft the airline has on order. Investors expressed concern over the ongoing financial strain of grounding brand new planes.
Safety is our responsibility. We own it.
– Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg