Boeing announced late Thursday night that they had completed a software update for its 737 Max-8 planes, the first step in getting the aircraft off the ground and carrying passengers again after it was grounded by aviation authorities around the world.
"We are confident that the 737 Max with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly," Boeing's CEO, Dennis Muilenburg said.
The aircraft manufacturer said it was planning to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to schedule a certification flight. Before that happens, the company says they have to address several issues that were raised by the FAA concerning how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different scenarios. Once once those are addressed, they plan on scheduling the certification flight and will be able to submit the documents necessary to have the Max-8 software upgrade certified.
Nearly 400 Boeing 737 Max-8 airplanes were grounded around the world in March following two deadly crashes that killed more than 300 people. Investigators have narrowed the crash's cause down to an automated anti-stall system that was included on the Max-8 models. Pilots on both flights were battling that system in the last minutes before the crash, authortiies said.
Known as MCAS, the system pushes the plane's nose down if the aircraft's software detects it is approaching a stall. Faulty data from a sensor is what triggered the crash, investigators say.
Boeing says they have flown a Max-8 with the updated software for 360 hours on 207 flights. The company also plans to provide updated training manuals for 737 Max pilots to better explain how it works.
Max-8 jets were Boeing's latest generation of planes, with more than 4,600 of the models ordered by airlines around the world.
"We’re committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right," Muilenberg said. "We’re making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 Max with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly. The accidents have only intensified our commitment to our values, including safety, quality and integrity, because we know lives depend on what we do."
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