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Boeing software update gets global review

By SCOTT REEVES in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-05-22 23:43

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington on March 7, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Regulators from China and around the world will meet Thursday in Texas to review software updates for the Boeing 737 MAX and to determine steps to assure a safe return of the airliner to commercial service.

In addition to China and the US, countries participating in the review include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and foreign regulators are not expected to announce an official schedule for the return of MAX jets to service.

The FAA, which organized the meeting in Fort Worth, said it does not need the concurrence of the foreign regulators to approve Boeing’s application to recertify the plane, but seeks to avoid a repeat of events following the second of two fatal crashes of MAX jets when China grounded the aircraft prior to other nations and apparently without reviewing the flight data.

“It’s a great opportunity for the FAA to work on its communications and to get input from overseas regulators about their concerns with the 737 MAX as well as the certification process, which has been pretty much the world standard to this point,” James Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told China Daily.

“I think the meeting will be helpful — there’s a lot to talk about. We haven’t seen any steps from FAA to make changes in the oversight process, which was obviously flawed based on information reported in the news media and (congressional) hearings.”

Boeing MAX jets were grounded worldwide following crashes March 10 in Ethiopia and Oct 29, 2018, in Indonesia that killed a total of 346 passengers and crew.

There are about 400 MAX jets in service worldwide, including about 97 in China.

The FAA could approve the software fix for the anti-stall device by late May or early June and could certify the plane for commercial flights by the end of June.

The International Air Transport Association will convene Thursday in Montreal with airlines that fly Boeing MAX jets, or have them on order, to discuss safety and returning the plane to service.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines announced that it will seek compensation from Boeing for the grounding of its 14 MAX planes. The airline has delayed deliveries of future 737 MAX aircraft. Reports in the People’s Daily newspaper did not state the amount of compensation China Eastern seeks.

Air China, China Southern and China Eastern may take joint action in seeking compensation from Boeing, Bloomberg reported.

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