Boeing is extensively testing the proposed software changes in its 737 Max jetliners that figured in two crashes and is reassuring airline executives about safety, CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Thursday.
He said engineers have taken 96 test flights – a total of 159 hours of flight time – to make sure the changes in the jetliner’s automatic anti-stalling system are effective.
Muilenburg also said he has been a worldwide tour to let airline officials know about the improvements. Two-thirds of the twin-engine model’s more than 50 customers have attended simulator sessions to see how the improvements work first hand, he added.
He said fatal accidents involving Lion Air in October, which claimed 189 lives, and Ethiopian Airlines last month in Africa, in which 157 passengers and crew died, underscore the need for continuous improvement at the aerospace giant.
“Lives literally depend on the work we do,” Muilenburg told a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush President Center. “We’re humbled and we’re learning.”
Muilenburg said engineers know how the flaws in the anti-stalling system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS, contributed to a cascade of events that caused the crashes.
The changes, which still must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, will give pilots more control and make sure that the two sensors that control the MCAS system work in tandem.
By Chris Woodyard