In his first public speech as an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that killed all 157 aboard on March 10, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said further evaluations are expected in the coming weeks as the planemaker functions to regain the confidence of its customers and the flying people.
Boeing, fighting its largest crisis in years, has been growing an upgrade to software that is under scrutiny in the Ethiopian Airlines accident along with a Lion Air 737 MAX crash which killed all 189 on board on Oct. 29.
The world’s biggest planemaker is under pressure to convince MAX operators and global regulators the aircraft, which was grounded worldwide in March, is safe to fly again.
Muilenburg said he recently joined among 96 test flights through which Boeing team performed distinct scenarios that exercised the software changes in multiple flight conditions within 159 hours of air time.
“The software update served as intended,” he said, without indicating when Boeing will send the fix to global regulators for their review, which is expected to continue approximately 90 days.
Boeing is currently working to deal with a glitch when separate software is integrated into the system that was uncovered during an internal inspection, raising questions how long before it submits the update for certificate.
First injury investigation reports reveal a 737 anti-stall system triggered by poor data from a key airflow detector was”one link in a longer chain of events” in the two crashes, Muilenburg said in a leadership forum in Dallas.
“We know we can break this string link. It is our responsibility to remove this threat.”
Last week Boeing cut its monthly 737 production by nearly 20 percent, signalling it didn’t anticipate aviation authorities to allow the airplane back in the air anytime soon.
Chicago-based Boeing hasn’t received any new orders for its 737 MAX since the wreck in March, nor it might make deliveries of aircraft.
The 737 MAX has been considered the likely narrowbody workhorse for international airlines for decades to come. There were over 300 MAX jetliners in operation in the time of the Lion Air crash and roughly 4,600 more on order.