- REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
- In a new statement, Boeing’s CEO says the company is “humbled” and “learning.”
- In an open letter to Ethiopian Airlines and the wider aviation industry after two fatal crashes involving Boeing’s 737 Max jets, CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Boeing would work “to earn and strengthen the flying public’s trust.” Countries and airlines have grounded the planes after the two crashes.
- Investigations into the crashes are said to be focusing on whether 737 Max software designed to push down the plane’s nose to prevent stalls was incorrectly triggered.
The CEO of Boeing has released an open letter to Ethiopian Airlines and the wider aviation industry, saying his company is “humbled” and “learning,” as investigations into two fatal crashes involving its planes zero in on their software.
Dennis Muilenburg wrote on Tuesday that the company had “thought about the lives lost and the impact it has on people around the globe and throughout the aerospace community” after two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in five months.
A 737 Max 8 operated by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air crashed in October, killing all 189 people on board.
Earlier this month, a 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines also crashed, killing all 157 people on board. Investigations into both crashes are said to be focusing on Boeing’s software systems.
“All those involved have had to deal with unimaginable pain,” Muilenburg said. “We’re humbled by their resilience and inspired by their courage.”
Muilenburg said the company would work with customers to “to earn and strengthen the flying public’s trust and confidence in us every day.”
He added: “We are all humbled and learning from this experience.”
Countries and airlines around the world have grounded the plane model following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, and China this week turned to Airbus, Boeing’s European rival, for billions of dollars’ worth of orders.
Scrutiny of plane software and how pilots were trained
On Wednesday, Congress is scheduled to question the acting head of the US Federal Aviation Administration over the planes’ approval process.
Reports have indicated that the plane model’s software is at the center of the official investigations into both crashes.
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System software is designed to prevent stalling by angling the plane downward. Evidence has suggested that MCAS may have been incorrectly triggered on the two flights.
The New York Times reported this week that simulations meant to work out how the Lion Air crash could have taken place found that pilots had less than 40 seconds to override the system and stop a nosedive if it went wrong.
- BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Separate reports have suggested that pilots were not fully equipped to deal with such a situation.
A Reuters report, citing investigative sources, said the Lion Air pilots were left searching the aircraft’s manual in the minutes before the crash to try to find a way to keep the plane under control.
The crashed plane had a similar malfunction the day before, which the crew solved. But that information was not passed on to the doomed flight.
The Times has also reported that the Lion Air pilots repeatedly hit a rebalancing switch in a bid to save the plane, apparently unaware that they needed to take three further steps.
- REUTERS/Abhirup Roy
Boeing is expected to roll out a software update meant to give pilots more control over MCAS and make it less likely to malfunction.
The Seattle Times reported that the FAA had completed an initial version of the software update seven weeks before the Ethiopian crash but was reviewing it.
CEO’s tribute to Ethiopian Airlines
Muilenburg paid tribute to Ethiopian Airlines, calling it a “pioneer and a leader in our industry” with “a reputation for service and safety.”
He said that the airline’s crews continued to “serve the flying public with distinction and professionalism” and that “this tragedy does not define Ethiopian – and it won’t define the aviation industry or our enduring relationship with their team.”
“We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder in partnership with the Ethiopian team to grieve and extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and communities of the passengers and crew,” he said.