NEW YORK – The US Department of Transportation is investigating the approval of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while the CEO of Boeing confirmed on Sunday they are in the final phase of updating the aircraft’s software.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the Department of Transportation has opened an unusual investigation into possible failures in federal safety approvals for new aircraft, alluding to the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model, which has suffered two fatal crashes in six months.
The investigation thus focuses on a security system that has been implicated in the Lion Air accident on Oct. 29, 2018 that killed 189 people, according to a government official quoted by the Journal.
Aviation authorities are investigating whether the anti-stall system could have played a role in the Ethiopian Airlines crash last week, which killed another 157 people on board, after Ethiopia’s transport minister, Dagmawit Moges, said on March 16 that there were “clear similarities” between the two incidents.
The two accidents have triggered the biggest crisis Boeing has faced in nearly two decades, threatening sales of an aircraft model that has been the aeronautical giant’s most stable source of revenue and potentially making it slower and harder to obtain future designs of aircraft certified as safe to fly.
At the same time, the chairman and CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, issued a statement in which he states that investigators continue to work to establish “definitive conclusions” of the latest incident and “Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs.”
“We also continue to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, the US Accredited Representative working with Ethiopian investigators,” he added.
According to Boeing’s CEO, the company “continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available.”
“Safety is our highest priority as we design, build and support our airplanes. As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety,” he said.
In any case and in accordance with international protocol, Muilenburg points out that “all inquiries about the ongoing accident investigation must be directed to the investigating authorities.”