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Boeing is testing new 737 MAX software that could prevent crashes

Published Mar 25th, 2019 5:51PM EDT
Boeing 737 Update
Image: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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It’s now been a couple of weeks since the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 forced airlines around the world to ground the popular aircraft, leaving none in service. The crash was the second in the span of a year for this Boeing model, raising suspicion of a critical issue with the aircraft.

Now, in an attempt to address any issues the 737 MAX might have, Boeing is reportedly testing new flight software that, as CNN reports, might have played a role in at least one of the two devastating crashes. The new software alters the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) to prevent it from being triggered erroneously.

The full investigation into last year’s crash of a 737 MAX 8 has yet to be completed, but it’s possible that a stabilization feature built into the flight software may have made it more difficult for pilots to recover from a problem in the air.

Flight simulations using both the old and new versions of the software revealed that the virtual planes were easier to land and reportedly didn’t require pilots to disable the MCAS feature in order to save a faltering aircraft.

“This is part of our ongoing effort to share more details about our plan for supporting the safe return of the 737 MAX to commercial service,” Boeing said in a statement. “We had a productive session this past Saturday and plan to reach all current and many future MAX operators and their home regulators. At the same time, we continue to work closely with our customers and regulators on software and training updates for the 737 MAX.”

The software update is a step back towards normalcy for Boeing but it’s not out of the woods yet. The FAA and other air travel governing bodies around the globe aren’t expected to allow the 737 planes to return to service until the investigations into the crashes are complete.

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