Boeing Co. met with 737 Max operators and lessors in Amsterdam on Tuesday, the first of about six sessions planned around the world as the planemaker lays the groundwork for resuming commercial flights of the aircraft following two deadly crashes.
Executives are using the sessions to discuss how to maintain the jetliners, which were grounded days after a March 10 disaster, said Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
The meetings will also touch on plans to “turn the fleet back on” once regulators clear the Max to fly. Other topics include pilot training, software updates and a public campaign to bolster the jet’s bruised reputation.
“We know that we have a number of areas where we need to improve, including transparency,” Johndroe said in an interview.
Boeing is stepping up customer outreach two days after revealing it had known long before the first 737 Max crash in October that a cockpit alert wasn’t working the way buyers of the jet had been told.
The manufacturer is finalizing an update for software that in both accidents pushed the plane’s nose down until pilots lost control. The changes will need to be certified by aviation regulators before the jet is cleared to resume commercial flights.
In Washington, the US Federal Aviation Administration has called for a summit of international regulators later this month to discuss its safety analysis of the aircraft.
The European Aviation Safety Agency is running its own investigation into the design of the 737 Max and vowed not to allow flights of Boeing’s best-selling jet until the probe is finished.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had convened a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board to review Boeing’s proposed software fix on the grounded 737 MAX.
The board consists of experts from the FAA, US Air Force, NASA and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center that were not involved in any aspect of the Boeing 737 MAX certification. The board’s recommendations will “directly inform the FAA’s decision concerning the 737 MAX fleet’s safe return to service.”
The plane was grounded worldwide in mid-March after two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in October and March killed 346 people.
Boeing, which has yet to formally submit the software fix to the FAA for approval, did not immediately comment Tuesday on the new review.
Some in Congress have urged the FAA to conduct an independent review into the anti-stall system at the center of investigations into two deadly plane crashes before allowing the planes to resume flying.
The board known as TAB will assess Boeing’s proposed fix to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the FAA said.
“The TAB is charged with evaluating Boeing and FAA efforts related to Boeing’s software update and its integration into the 737 MAX flight control system. The TAB will identify issues where further investigation is required prior to FAA approval of the design change,” the FAA said.
The world’s largest planemaker, facing its worst crisis in years and the worldwide grounding of its top-selling jetliner, has said its software upgrade and associated pilot training will add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data from triggering MCAS.
The system activated in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March and also during a separate Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October. (Bloomberg and Reuters)