Boeing says the Boeing 737 MAX is ready; pending FAA approval
On March 12th, 2 days after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash the whole world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX. While airlines are scrambling to find parking spaces to store their 737 MAX’s, Boeing is trying to solve its issues with the type, while also looking for space in order to put the built 737’s somewhere.
Boeing is definitely not canceling the 737 MAX, because the company believes it can fly again. But the worst case scenario of Airbus pressuring Boeing into the MAX has turned into a hellish scenario, as now the American aircraft manufacturer is blamed for the deaths of 346 people.
The two accidents have destroyed the reputation of Boeing, as the media revealed more and more shocking facts about the 737 MAX.
From lackluster training, lobbyism and greed over the manufacturing of the aircraft to the fact that Boeing did not even inform the pilots about MCAS, the company has two huge tasks on their hands.
Firstly, getting the update ready. Secondly, repairing the reputation of the company.
And one of those tasks is going better for Boeing than the other.
Why does the MAX need an update?
Before we dig into the news about the fact that the update is ready, finding out the reason behind the update is a must.
Boeing did not want or need this – the aircraft manufacturer planned to design a new jet and stop building the 737. But Boeing had no other choice, as American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) also placed an order for 100 re-engined 737s, which did not even exist yet.
So, pressured by time and customers, the design team prepared their drafts for the new 737, called the MAX. New engines, new split-tip winglets, revised APU inlet, taller nose gear and other improvements were added to the Boeing 737, the company’s most popular jet.
But the new engines created an issue. The Leap-1B was a much bigger engine than the previous CFM56-7B used on the 737 NG. So, the engineers had to mount the engines much further forward than normal. As a result of this, Boeing had another issue – the aircraft was prone to stalling.
LEAP-1B Engine of the Boeing 737 MAX. u/coasterjake on reddit
In order to counteract the stalling, Boeing installed MCAS, a system that automatically makes adjustments to the angle of attack and prevents the 737 MAX from plunging into the ground. The system activates under very unique circumstances – if the AoA is very high, autopilot is off, flaps are up and if the aircraft is in a very steep turn.
Not working as intended
However, as we now know, it did the exact opposite – MCAS essentially doomed the passengers on Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 and Lion Air Flight JT 610.
As more details emerged about MCAS and the systems on the MAX, the general public found out that MCAS relies on only one of two AoA sensors on the aircraft. So, if the one sensor that MCAS relies on is broken, well, you better know how to disable the system.
The Lion Air pilots did not. Boeing simply did not provide any information on how to do so.
An alert, which notified the pilots about the AoA sensors disagreeing, was only an optional extra that airlines received after paying for AoA indicators. The preliminary reports about the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes revealed that both times, the AoA indicators showcased different numbers.
So, if Boeing only included the alert as a standard feature, which they will do now, the aircraft most likely would not have even lifted off the ground.
But Boeing is sticking to their guns – in a press release Boeing has said that they provide all data and information needed to safely operate the aircraft in the flight deck. The AoA disagree alert is not a necessity and only a feature.
Nevertheless, that showcases how rushed and irresponsible the certification and manufacturing process was, considering the fact that the pilots did not fully know what kind of systems there are on the aircraft. Greed and carelessness played a huge part in the death of 346 people.
But what will the new update bring to the table?
Updating the software of the Boeing 737 MAX
In one of the many press releases following the accidents, Boeing stated that the new update will have additional barriers to prevent MCAS from activating mistakenly. In short, the software on the Boeing 737 MAX will: