Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged on Wednesday to do all it can to prevent crashes like the two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.
Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters to unveil the changes to the MCAS stall prevention system, which has been implicated in the tragedies in Ethiopia and Indonesia, as part of a charm offensive to restore the company’s reputation.
“We are going to do everything to make sure that accidents like this don’t happen again,” Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy, told reporters at a factory in Washington state.
Meanwhile, across the country in the nation’s capital, the head of the US air safety agency faced harsh questions from senators over its relationship with and oversight of Boeing.
Dan Elwell, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, defended his agency but acknowledged that as systems become more complex, the FAA’s “oversight approach needs to evolve.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other top officials were also on the hot seat on Capitol Hill.
Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg was not called to the Senate hearing but is expected to testify at a later date.
Ahead of the tough questioning, the company launched a campaign to convince the flying public that it is addressing the issues with the 737 MAX, including a fix to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) implicated in the deadly crashes.
At the company’s massive factory in Renton, Washington, Boeing unveiled the software changes and offered reassurances.
Sinnett said it will take only about an hour to install the updates and they can begin as soon as regulators authorise the changes, which were developed “after months of testing and hundreds of hours.”