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Boeing fix for 737 Max software is delayed
BOEING'S software update for its troubled 737 Max jetliners has been delayed after the company deemed further work was needed on the fix before it was submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Max, Boeing's newest plane, was grounded by regulators around the world in March after the crashes of two Max aircraft within five months.
As part of its process to return the Max to the air, Boeing has been working on a software update to a new anti-stall system, known as MCAS, that was included in the Max.
Boeing had hoped to submit the update to the FAA, which must approve the new software and training procedures before the Max can return to commercial flight, as early as this week.
But in recent days, the timeline was extended by several weeks.
The delay came about through the workings of Boeing's so-called non-advocate review, a process in which Boeing employees who are not working on the software fix vet the work before it is submitted to the FAA, according to people with knowledge of the process who were not authorised to speak publicly.
It is not clear what specific changes the Boeing employees believe needed to be made.
On Monday, the FAA made a statement acknowledging the timing had been pushed back.
"The FAA expects to receive Boeing's final package of its software enhancement over the coming weeks for FAA approval," the agency said. "Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 Max Flight Control System to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues." After the FAA released its statement on Monday, Boeing also acknowledged the delay.
"Boeing continues to work with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies worldwide on the development and certification of the MCAS software update and training programme," it said. "We are working to demonstrate that we have identified and appropriately addressed all certification requirements and will be submitting for FAA review once completed in the coming weeks."
The 737 Max will remain grounded for at least several more weeks, prolonging a crisis that has engulfed Boeing.
The Max is Boeing's bestselling jet, and the company is racing to produce the planes at its factory in Renton, Washington. But with the planes grounded, the company has halted deliveries of new jets. As a result, it is stockpiling finished planes, which will have to be updated with the new software before they are handed over to customers.
At the same time, business and regulatory pressures are mounting. Some airlines are demanding that Boeing compensate them for lost revenues as they cancel flights and their planes sit idle. At least one airline is seeking to cancel its deal to buy more Max jets.
Families of passengers aboard the flights that crashed, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, have hired lawyers to pursue legal claims against Boeing. And in Washington, the Justice Department and the Transportation Department's inspector general are looking into the company's rushed efforts to produce and certify the Max.
"Safety is our first priority, and we will take a thorough and methodical approach to the development and testing of the update to ensure we take the time to get it right," Boeing said in its statement Monday.
Once regulators have Boeing's software update, it could take weeks longer for approval. "The FAA will not approve the software for installation," the statement said, "until the agency is satisfied with the submission." NYTIMES