Boeing acting to ensure 737 Max safety, CEO says

Did the FAA allow Boeing too much latitude?

Aviation analyst Jay Ratliff on the investigation into the second crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, in some of his first material comments since the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash, wrote an open letter to airlines and passengers on Monday regarding the safety of its aircraft in the wake of a second deadly accident involving its 737 Max 8 jet.

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Muilenburg said the company is committed to making its “safe airplanes even safer” – while expressing condolences to the families who lost loved ones in both crashes.

“Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, and we’ll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots,” Muilenburg said. “This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer.”

The company is planning to release a software update and related pilot training for the aircraft to address issues brought up after the Lion Air crash.

Boeing is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board regarding both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents. It has maintained that its aircraft are safe.

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Last week Trump ordered the grounding of all 737 Max jets, after other countries – including China and Ethiopia – did so first.

While Boeing issued a statement of support following the president’s decision, Muilenburg says he regrets the challenges that have been caused by the fleet’s grounding.

According to officials from Ethiopia, preliminary data from the Ethiopian Airlines jet’s black box show “clear similarities” to the Lion Air crash in October – where both jets abruptly dove shortly after takeoff. It is not definitively clear, however, that the incidents are connected.

One issue discovered during the investigation into the Lion Air crash – which is still ongoing – was that the angle-of-attack sensors, which detect how wind is meeting the wings, incorrectly perceive that the plane is experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Those sensors then automatically cause the plane to dive. Boeing previously said Lion Air Flight 610 experienced “erroneous input” from one of the sensors in question.

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A full report regarding the Ethiopian Airlines accident is expected within 30 days.

The U.S. government is also reportedly reviewing the safety certification process for Boeing’s Max jets, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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