The US aerospace giant’s new narrow-body twin-engine airliner was grounded by airlines worldwide after two similar accidents thought to be caused by faulty software led to the deaths of nearly 350 people.
Test pilots including a pilot from the major US carrier American Airlines expect to test out Boeing’s fix for its 737 MAX software this weekend, a pilots’ union official has told Reuters.
“This airplane can be a safe airplane, and there have been great strides on getting a fix in the works, but I’ll have a better feel after we can test it out, Allied Pilots Association safety committee chairman Mike Michaelis told the agency on Thursday.
According to Michaelis, one American Airlines pilot and one Allied Pilots Association test pilot would be involved in testing out the new software using flight simulators in Renton, Washington, where 737 MAX aircraft are assembled.
The company was left scrambling to fix a bug in its software and provide pilots with related training to “address concerns” the company said it discovered after the accident earlier this month involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight soon after takeoff. The accident was the second crash involving the Boeing plane; last October, a 737 MAX operated by the Indonesian airline Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff. Both crashes killed all passengers and crew on board.
In related news, Indonesian flag carrier Garuda cancelled its $4.9 billion order of 49 737 MAX 8 aircraft on Friday, with a company spokesperson saying its passengers have “lost confidence” in the plane.
“We have sent a letter to Boeing requesting that the order be cancelled. The reason is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have the confidence” in the plane, Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan told reporters.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that China could drop its order for 737 MAX planes over safety concerns despite earlier plans to include them in a future trade deal with the US.
On Thursday, US media reported that both of the doomed 737s lacked two vital safety features which Boeing had listed as optional. Boeing has promised to rectify the oversight, to upgrade its so-called Manoeuvring Characteristic Augmentation System (MCAS) software and to make previously-optional sensor equipment standard.