Boeing completes 737 MAX software update, works on pilot training plan

The Boeing 737 aircraft family is the best-selling airliner of all time with more than 15,000 aircraft ordered. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2019

Boeing completes 737 MAX software update, works on pilot training plan

  • Aviation regulators from other countries will have to assess Boeing’s proposed fixes and clear the aircraft to fly
  • Boeing hopes the software upgrade and associated pilot training will add layers of protection

Boeing said on Thursday it had completed a software update for its 737 MAX jets, which have been grounded worldwide since March after they were involved in two fatal crashes.
The planemaker said it was in the process of submitting a plan on pilot training to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and would work with the regulator to schedule its certification test flight.
The FAA is planning a meeting on May 23 in Fort Worth, Texas, with regulators from around the world to update them on reviews of Boeing’s software fix and on pilot training.
Aviation regulators from other countries will have to assess Boeing’s proposed fixes and clear the aircraft to fly in other regions independently of the FAA.
It is unclear when the 737 MAX aircraft will return to service, but US airlines have said they hope the jets will fly this summer.
Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc, the two largest US operators of the MAX, have pulled the jets from their schedules until Aug. 5 and Aug 19, respectively.
The airlines, which must still decide on pilot training, have said they would use the jets as spare planes if they are approved for flight before those dates.
The FAA said on Thursday that Boeing had not yet submitted its final software package for approval.
On Wednesday, acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said he expected Boeing to make its formal submission for its software update in the next week or so.
The 737 MAX was grounded following a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 on board just five months after a similar crash of a Lion Air flight killed 189 people.
Boeing hopes the software upgrade and associated pilot training will add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data from triggering a system called MCAS, which was activated in both the planes before they crashed.
The planemaker said it had completed simulator testing and engineering test flights as well as developed training and education materials, which were now being reviewed by the FAA, global regulators and airline customers.
To date, Boeing has flown the 737 MAX with updated software for more than 360 hours on 207 flights, the company said.


Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

Updated 16 September 2019

Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

  • The Houthi attacks hit two Aramco sites and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply
  • President Donald Trump said Sunday the US was ‘locked and loaded’ to respond to the attacks

HONG KONG: Oil prices saw a record surge Monday after attacks on two Saudi facilities slashed output in the world’s top producer by half, fueling fresh geopolitical fears as Donald Trump blamed Iran and raised the possibility of a military strike on the country.
Brent futures surged $12 in the first few minutes of business — the most in dollar terms since they were launched in 1988 and representing a jump of nearly 20 percent — while WTI jumped more than $8, or 15 percent.
Both contracts pared the gains but were both still more than 10 percent up.
The attack by Tehran-backed Houthi militia in neighboring Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war, hit two sites owned by state-run giant Aramco and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply.
Trump said Sunday the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Tehran denies the accusations but the news revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Middle East after a series of attacks on oil tankers earlier this year that were also blamed on Iran.
“Tensions in the Middle East are rising quickly, meaning this story will continue to reverberate this week even after the knee-jerk panic in oil markets this morning,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Trump authorized the release of US supplies from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while Aramco said more than half of the five million barrels of production lost will be restored by tomorrow.
But the strikes raise concerns about the security of supplies from the world’s biggest producer.
Oil prices had dropped last week after news that Trump had fired his anti-Iran hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, which was seen as paving the way for an easing of tensions in the region.
“One thing we can say with confidence is that if part of the reason for last week’s fall in oil and improvement in geopolitical risk sentiment was the news of John Bolton’s sacking ... and thoughts this was a precursor to some form of rapprochement between Trump and Iran, then it is no longer valid,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.