Boeing sets briefing on 737 MAX aircraft software and training updates

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices. (Reuters)
Updated 25 March 2019

Boeing sets briefing on 737 MAX aircraft software and training updates

  • The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices
  • Regulators this month grounded the worldwide fleet of the aircraft following a crash that killed 157 people

ADDIS ABABA/SINGAPORE: Boeing will brief more than 200 global airline pilots, technical leaders and regulators this week on software and training updates for its 737 MAX aircraft, as Ethiopian Airlines expressed confidence in the planemaker despite a recent crash.
The carrier will work with Boeing and other airlines to make air travel safer, its chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, said, after regulators this month grounded the worldwide fleet of the aircraft following a crash that killed 157 people.
“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years.”
However, many questions on the 737 MAX “remain without answers,” Tewolde added, and a spokesman for the carrier said it had no “immediate plans” to attend the Boeing session, without giving further details.
Wednesday’s meeting is a sign that Boeing is nearing completion on a planned software patch required to return the grounded fleet to commercial service, though it will still need approval from regulators.
The session in Renton, Washington is part of an effort to reach all current, and many future, 737 MAX operators and their home regulators to discuss software and training updates to the jet, Boeing said in a statement.
The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices.
Garuda Indonesia was invited to the briefing, Chief Executive Ari Askhara said on Monday. Last week, Indonesia’s national carrier said it planned to cancel its order for 49 737 MAX jets, citing a loss of passenger trust.
“We were informed on Friday, but because it is short notice, we can’t send a pilot,” Askhara said, adding that the airline had requested a webinar with Boeing, only to be rejected.
A Boeing spokeswoman said the meeting formed part of a series of in-person information sessions.
“We have been scheduling, and will continue to arrange, additional meetings to communicate with all current, and many future, MAX customers and operators,” she said.
Garuda, which has only one 737 MAX, had been reconsidering its order before the Ethiopian crash, as had fellow Indonesian carrier Lion Air, which suffered a crash in October that killed all 189 aboard.
Boeing had informed the airline of the meeting but it might not attend, said Lion Air Managing Director Daniel Putut, who declined further comment.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. said its offshoot, SilkAir, which operates the 737 MAX, had received an invitation to the meeting and would send representatives.
Representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will also attend, a spokeswoman for the regulator said.
Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd, which, before the grounding, had been due to receive its first 737 MAX in April, said it planned to send pilots to Renton. South Korean low-cost carrier Eastar Jet will send two pilots, a spokesman said.
On Saturday, teams from the three US airlines that own 737 MAX jets joined a session in Renton reviewing a planned software upgrade.
Flydubai representatives attended that session and some will also attend this week’s meeting, a spokeswoman for the Dubai-based airline said.
A US official briefed on the matter on Saturday said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had not yet signed off on the software upgrade and training but aimed to review and approve them by April.
It remained unclear whether the software upgrade, called “design changes” by the FAA, will resolve concerns stemming from the investigation into the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Tewolde, the airline’s chief executive, said until there were more answers about the 737 MAX, the planes should remain grounded, adding, “Putting one more life at risk is too much.”
The US official said planned changes included 15 minutes of training to help pilots deactivate the anti-stall system known as MCAS in the event of faulty sensor data or other issues. It also included some self-guided instruction, the official added.


At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

Updated 38 min 29 sec ago

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

  • A single tree that to bear 40 different types of apple

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum is not all about the fourth industrial revolution or the rise of AI.

You can also find all manner of strange and intriguing products on display from biodegradable plastic made from algae to wallpaper made from recycled corn husks.

One stand titled “How do you design a tree?” is part of a conservation effort where a single tree is designed to bear 40 different types of apple.

Another stand displays colored seaweed on a rack, showing how clothes can be dyed in a sustainable, non-chemically corrosive manner.

Propped along a large wall is Fernando Laposse’s wallpaper made of variations of purple corn husks that are reinforced with recycled cardboard and cork to create wallpaper and furniture. The husks come from corn that needs very little water and can be grown in the desert, which makes it all the more sustainable.

“This initiative helps the local economy as it brings in jobs and a resurgence of crafts and food traditions while also ensuring sustainability,” Laposse said.

Another display shows a machine that extracts pellets from a mixture of algae and starch and is used to create a thread that is the base of 3D printing. These sustainable, biodegradable plastics made from algae are being experimented with in different regions.

With the rise of deep fakes — a branch of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness — another stand delivers a warning on the looming dangers of unregulated software.

The Davos forum prides itself on its sustainability, and key topics have included climate, mobility, energy and the circular economy. Everything is recyclable, and participants must download an application in order to keep up with the program and any changes — a move to cut down on paper waste.