The FAA have assessed the Boeing MAX as fit to fly again following several modifications. Now, two sensors will feed the MCAS system rather than the shocking decision to rely on one. Other changes include a weaker system that can be overpowered by the crew as well as limiting the number of times that it can activate. In the two fatal crashes the pilots not only had no idea that the system existed but whatever they did, it kept pushing the nose of the aircraft down until it crashed. Not only horrifying but shocking that a major manufacturer and regulator could ever have allowed this system to exist. The US House Committee tasked with investigating the matter were scathing in their criticism of both Boeing and the regulator FAA. The say:
“Systemic oversight shortcomings and problems with Boeings design, production and development…” They also say clearly that, “The combination of these weaknesses contributed to the 737 MAX’s significant safety deficiencies and ultimately the crash of both MAX airplanes.” The committee also says, “…The horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight.”
Captain “Sully” Sullengerger – the man who is celebrated for a safe landing of an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River following double engine failure – has test flown the new version in the simulator and still has criticisms however. He says that it is safe enough but could be better and urges further modifications to provide the crew with more and better alert systems, such as the, “Synthetic Airspeed,” system on the Boeing 787. This was not included originally for cost reasons. Sullenberger goes on to say that the reputation of the FAA is “Shattered” following the revelations following the two tragedies.
I would add my own view that had anyone suggested to me that prior to these events that a manufacturer and regulator would sanction such a flawed system and also keep it secret from the pilots, I would have said that it was impossible. Such is the power of finance and large corporations; it is not a happy mix.
The next test is to see how the public feel about flying on the revised version. How will you know when you book a flight? If you do, what will you decide?