FAA ‘tentatively’ approves software for Boeing’s 737 Max jet

The Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) has “tentatively approved” Boeing’s 737 Max software update and pilot training changes, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report.

According to the report, further updates and tests will be required prior to its roll-out.

The software changes will apparently make the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) feature on the aircraft less “aggressive”, allowing pilots to have more control, according to the WSJ.

MCAS Malfunction

According to multiple reports, it is believed that an MCAS error played an important role in the Lion Air crash that occurred in October.

The FAA has said there are similarities between that crash and a second crash that happened earlier this month in Ethiopia.

The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment from the WSJ.

Boeing said the update will include a warning light, which was previously part of an optical package that carriers could purchase.

The WSJ report states that it will also provide better training for pilots operating the plane. It will include new interactive training courses, more information about how the MCAS system functions, and how to deactivate it.

Previously, Boeing has repeatedly said that experienced 737 pilots wouldn’t need to go through extensive retraining. Prior to the Ethiopian and Lion Air crash, pilots were given two hours of training on an iPad rather than using a traditional flight simulator.

Software fix

An FAA spokesperson told the Washington Post in a statement that it “expects the software fix early next week; we will evaluate it at the time” According to CNN, three American carriers that fly Boeing 737 Max planes tested software changes developed by Boeing over the weekend.

According to the report, three American carriers, as well as two smaller non-US airlines, conducted flights designed to mimic the situation that brought down the Lion Air flight in Indonesia last year, using both the current and updated versions of the software.

With the updated software, each pilot using the flight simulator managed to successfully land the plane. However, the FAA is unlikely to lift a ban on the planes until all black box data is analysed and further tests are run on the new update.

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