The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has called on the help of NASA and the U.S. Air Force to review the software patch it is developing for its line of 737 Max jets, which remain grounded worldwide following crashes that killed hundreds of people in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The multi-agency Technical Advisory Board, which also includes experts from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, “will identify issues where further investigation is required prior to FAA approval of the design change,” the FAA said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The board also will “directly inform the FAA’s decision concerning the 737 Max fleet’s safe return to service.”
Both Boeing and the FAA are under intense scrutiny after the 737 Max crashes; Boeing for its botched development of the plane and the FAA for its flawed oversight and certification processes. The integrity of the FAA was further called into question after it refused to ground 737 Max planes, even after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
Boeing has completed a preliminary software patch but has not yet submitted it to the FAA for review. The repair centers on the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a unit of software that operates in the background of the flight-control system and is intended to prevent stalls.
Boeing has acknowledged that the MCAS contributed to the erratic behavior both planes experienced shortly after takeoff.
Nevertheless, Boeing has maintained that the design of the 737 Max is safe and deflected blame toward the pilots, suggesting that human error was to blame for the crashes of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
At the same time, the company says it is working to “earn and re-earn” flyers’ trust and pledged to make its 737 Max planes safer than ever.
The FAA also faces an uphill battle in restoring its reputation as the agency that sets the global bar for aviation safety. According to Business Insider, Boeing formed the advisory board for its software patch as Congress reviews how the FAA certified the plane to fly.
It appears that the FAA has also lost the complete trust of some foreign regulatory bodies, at least for now. Both Canada and the EU have said they will review Boeing’s 737 Max software fix themselves before the planes can take to the air again, according to Business Insider.
Additional source: Business Insider