Boeing has pledged US$100 million to support victims of two fatal accidents involving the 737 MAX and says work on re-certifying the aircraft is ongoing while it addresses an issue with the software update for the grounded jet.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on June 27 it had found “a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate” as part of its review of the software fix for the 737 MAX’s anti-stall feature that has been implicated in two fatal crashes.
And with no expected return-to-service date, some airlines that operate the 737 MAX have pulled the aircraft from their schedules until October 2019.
Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said Boeing was continuing to work with the FAA and international regulatory authorities to develop, test and certify updates to the 737 MAX.
“Through our comprehensive review process with the FAA we determined last week there’s an additional flight condition that we must address to reduce pilot workload and ensure the safety of the airplane and the flying public,” Muilenburg said in a video message posted on his Twitter page on Wednesday (US time).
“We agree with the FAA that we must take action on this and we’re already working on the required software.
“In parallel, our work continues with regulators to complete as many elements of the certification process as possible as we develop this additional software.
“We’re working hard with a rigorous focus on safety and it’s important we take the time necessary to make these updates.”
The anti-stall feature, known as the Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), was added to the 737 MAX as part of design changes to compensate for stall risk from the installation of larger engines further forward on the wing compared with previous 737 versions.
It tells the flight control system to change its Angle of Attack (AOA) downward if a stall risk is perceived.
Boeing has said previously the updated software provided additional layers of protection if the AOA sensors provided erroneous data.
The airframer began updating the software after the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 off Indonesia in October 2018.
Then, in March 2019, the 737 MAX fleet was grounded globally after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed on March 10.
The two tragedies killed 346 people.
Boeing said the money would be spent on “education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities”.
Further, the company said it would work with local governments and non-profit organisations in those communities and described the US$100 million as an “initial investment” that will be made over multiple years.
“We hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort,” Muilenburg said in a statement.
Boeing said more information would be released in near future.
Also, the company pledged to match any donations made by its employees to support the victims of the two accidents.
Boeing is facing a class action from more than 400 pilots seeking compensation for financial and other losses following the global grounding of the 737 MAX fleet.