New software glitch found in Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet

This Dec. 7, 2015, file photo shows the second Boeing 737 MAX airplane being built on the assembly line in Renton, Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Updated 27 June 2019

New software glitch found in Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet

  • Test pilots trying out Boeing’s updated Max software found a flaw that could result in the plane’s nose pitching down
  • The Max began passenger flights in 2017 and is Boeing’s best-selling plane, although fewer than 400 have been delivered to airlines

A new software problem has been found in the troubled Boeing 737 Max that could push the plane’s nose down automatically, and fixing the flaw is almost certain to further delay the plane’s return to flying after two deadly crashes.
Boeing said Wednesday that the FAA “identified an additional requirement” for software changes that the aircraft manufacturer has been working on for eight months, since shortly after the first crash.
“Boeing agrees with the FAA’s decision and request, and is working on the required software to address the FAA’s request,” Boeing said in a statement.
Government test pilots trying out Boeing’s updated Max software in a flight simulator last week found a flaw that could result in the plane’s nose pitching down, according to two people familiar with the matter. In both Max crashes, the plane’s flight-control software pushed the nose down based on faulty readings from one sensor.
The people said fixing the issue might be accomplished through software changes or by replacing a microprocessor in the plane’s flight-control system. One said the latest setback is likely to delay the plane’s return to service by an extra one to three months. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aspects of the review process that are not public.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said it will lift its grounding of the plane only when it deems the jet safe — there is no set timeline.
“On the most recent issue, the FAA’s process is designed to discover and highlight potential risks. The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate,” the agency said.
The Max began passenger flights in 2017 and is Boeing’s best-selling plane, although fewer than 400 have been delivered to airlines. A Max flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in October, and an Ethiopian Airlines Max crashed in March. In all, 346 people died. Days after the second crash, regulators around the world grounded the plane.
Boeing is scaling back the power of flight-control software called MCAS to push the nose down. It is also linking the software’s nose-down command to two sensors on each plane instead of relying on just one in the original design.
It is still uncertain what kind of training pilots will get for flying the plane with the new software — either computer-based or in-flight simulators.
Meanwhile, some airlines that own Max jets have had to cancel large numbers of flights while the planes remain grounded.
On Wednesday, United Airlines pushed back the scheduled return of its 14 Max jets until September. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines had already made similar announcements — an acknowledgement that the plane won’t return to flying as soon as the airlines had hoped.
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David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter


Davos 2020: Ministers, top executives in Saudi delegation to WEF

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, center, his wife Hilde, left, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen are seated during the opening session of the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (AP)
Updated 21 January 2020

Davos 2020: Ministers, top executives in Saudi delegation to WEF

  • A large KSA contingent comprising 55 senior figures will be attending the WEF in Davos
  • Around 3,000 leaders from business, public policy, culture and technology will be in attendance

DAVOS: Some 3,000 leaders from the worlds of business, public policy, culture and technology are due to arrive in the Alpine town of Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which begins on Tuesday.

The meeting this year — under the theme “stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world” — is the 50th time the annual meeting has been held in the Swiss resort, but it comes at a time of growing global tensions over climate change and geopolitical confrontation.

Last week, the WEF published its annual global risk report, one of the gloomiest ever, with global experts concerned about accelerating environmental damage and potential political flashpoints in several parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia is sending a top-level delegation to the meeting, headed by Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet, with some 55 senior figures.

They include ministers and senior executives from industry, finance and the economy, in addition to many other Saudi participants attending for bilateral meetings and support roles, as well as the event’s legendary networking.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman will attend his first WEF annual meeting since he was named energy minister last year. Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman will also attend.

Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, will attend for the first time as head of a publicly listed company following the oil giant’s successful initial public offering (IPO) last year.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and the WEF have grown stronger as the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 strategy has accelerated.

Later this year, Riyadh will play host to a meeting of the WEF under the banner of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the brainchild of Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman.

“On the eve of its G20 presidency, we welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia … to shape those technologies in a way that serves society,” Schwab said.

In contrast with the strong participation from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, notably the UAE, Iran has pulled out of the meeting altogether because of the heightened political tensions in the region following the killing of the country’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in a US strike earlier this month.

President Donald Trump is leading a big American delegation to the event, the second time he has attended Davos since moving into the White House, having missed last year. He is due to deliver a keynote address on the opening day of the meeting.

Climate change and its consequences look certain to be a big topic in snowy Davos, where the temperature rarely rises above freezing.

Greta Thunberg, the young environmental campaigner, is also taking part in sessions, including one on “averting a climate apocalypse.”

She has hiked over the Alps to get to Davos, having pledged not to use environmentally damaging public transport.

Davos 2020 is split across seven key themes: Healthy futures, how to save the planet, better business, beyond geopolitics, technology for good, fairer economies, and society and the future of work.

On climate change, the WEF said: “The Earth is getting hotter, the ice is melting, the oceans are rising, and they’re filling up with plastic. We’re losing species, building up greenhouse gases, and running out of time. It’s easy to feel downhearted.”

On rising geopolitical tensions, it added: “We need to move from geopolitics and international competition to a default of consummate global collaboration. Nations are going to have to change.”

In an effort to change the event’s image as a showy gathering of the global elite, often traveling in helicopters and limousines to the Alpine resort, the WEF has offered to pay half of the first-class rail fare from anywhere in the world to Davos.