In a surprise move, the European Union’s aviation regulator announced that the highly disputed Boeing 737 Max-8 jet is safe to fly again. The disclosure comes at a time when the company is scrambling to deliver the required software change to its high selling aircraft before getting the green light to fly again.
The Max saga that claimed the lives of a total of 346 people began with the crash of Indonesia’s Lion Air and was followed by another accident on an Ethiopian Airlines’ owned aircraft. The accident in Ethiopia took place in March 2019, while the world was still coming to terms with the Indonesian crash in October 2018.
Partick Ky, the executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EUASA), told news outlets that he is satisfied with the changes Boeing has made to the aircraft and expects to see Max-8 flying again over European skies.
However, some wonder what this declaration would imply since the aircraft manufacturer is still working on the software changes that would solve the faulty features of the jet. This software feature was required to be amended by EUASA and it would take Boeing about two years to make the software ready for installation.
The software fault found in Boeing’s 737 Max-8 aircraft is linked to a new feature called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which pushes the aircraft’s nose down as it ascends beyond some point, as the software understands it to be unsafe.
Discussions on whether pilots flying the aircraft were made aware of the software’s function or if they had actually taken trainings on it was at the center of the debate surrounding the two fatal crashes. However, things took a turn for the worst when it was understood that Boeing intentionally hid information about the feature.
A report by the US Congress released in mid-September 2020 blamed Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) citing “repeated and serious failures.”
Stressing that the two crashes were “a horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” the report shows “How Boeing – under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits on Wall Street – escaped scrutiny from FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people.”
Subsequent to the two fatal crashes, almost 500 Boeing 737 Max-8 aircrafts were grounded since March 2019. Because of the grounding, airlines across the world lost billions of dollars and Boeing’s losses is said to be USD 19 billion as of January 2020. Boeing expects to see its planes roam the skies, beginning in early 2021.