US officials ask Boeing to change 737 Max designs for approvals

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Boeing 737 Max Airplane
Representational Image

Aviation giant Boeing has been asked to make several design changes to its 737 Max aircraft by the US authorities to fix safety issues that arose in two deadly crashes and led to the worldwide grounding of the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made several recommendations in terms of software changes in the flight-control computers, new alerts to pilots under some conditions, and the rerouting of some wiring on the planes, most of which have been raised earlier.

The public will have 45 days to comment on the FAA’s decision.

Even though the Boeing officials are positive of winning the regulatory approval to resume deliveries of completed Max jets in the fourth quarter of this year, there has been no clear indication from the FAA when it will lift its March 2019 order grounding all Max jets.

Max was first introduced in 2017 only to be grounded in 2019 after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia. Investigators were critical to point out the role played by flight-control software in these crashes that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty sensor readings.

The FAA has been seriously criticized by families of the passengers killed in the crashes and by members of Congress, who have found fault in the agency’s original decision to certify the Max. In Monday’s proposed airworthiness directive and an accompanying 95-page report, the FAA detailed how it identified and responded to safety problems that became evident from investigations into the crashes.

The agency said that when its work is done, “the 737 MAX will be safe to operate and meet FAA certification standards.”