In an announcement Boeing, has said it has made significant progress over the past several months in support of safely returning the 737 MAX to service as the company continues to work with the FAA and other global regulators on the process laid out for certifying the 737 MAX software and related training updates. The company has also made significant governance and operational changes to further sharpen its focus.
As the announcement says:
What we are doing
In addition to providing assistance to those affected by these accidents, teams from across Boeing and our supplier partners have been working around the clock to develop software updates and conduct related flight testing, enhance future pilot training materials, engage and inform global regulators, airline customers and our suppliers, and support the existing fleet of 737 MAX airplanes.
Support for Victim Families: These two tragic accidents continue to weigh heavily on everyone at Boeing. Boeing has established a $100 million relief fund to meet family and community needs of those affected by these accidents. Fifty million dollars has been set aside for the Boeing Financial Assistance Fund, which is designed to provide immediate financial assistance to the families of the victims of the accidents. Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, renowned experts in establishing and overseeing victim’s compensation funds, have been hired to design and independently administer the Boeing Financial Assistance Fund, which has already begun providing relief to impacted families.
Software Updates & Flight Testing: We updated the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Software (MCAS) on the MAX by adding three additional layers of protection that will prevent accidents like these from ever happening again. To date, we have conducted more than 800 test and production flights with the updated software, totaling more than 1,500 hours. The company is making steady progress on the second software update announced in June for additional flight control computer redundancy. Some 445 participants from more than 140 customers and regulators around the globe, including the FAA, have participated in simulator sessions to experience the proposed MCAS software update. Just last week the company successfully conducted a dry-run of a certification flight test.
Customer & Stakeholder Engagement: Boeing has conducted 20 conferences across the globe with more than 1,100 participants from more than 250 organizations to help operators and financiers prepare for return to service. The company is also conducting weekly technical calls with customers worldwide to deliver the highest quality support and fully prepare the fleet to safely return to service when the grounding is lifted. This also includes a developing a comprehensive package of training and educational resources. The company is also closely engaging with more than 900 suppliers to ensure supply chain stability.
24/7 Fleet Support: Boeing is providing around-the-clock customer support through its global operations center while simultaneously delivering the highest-quality fleet support to airlines. Teams are leveraging advanced analytics, production flights, and on-site demonstrations to ready the fleet for entry-into-service once regulators lift the grounding.
What we have changed
We’re also taking steps to implement previously announced actions that will sharpen our focus on product and services safety. Since announcing changes on Sept. 30, we’ve already made changes in response to our Board of Directors’ recommendations.
Governance and Oversight: A specially-appointed Board Committee conducted a rigorous, five-month independent review of the company’s policies and processes and made a series of recommendations that have been adopted. Earlier this month, the company also announced that its Board of Directors has separated the roles of chairman and chief executive officer to enable Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg to sharpen his focus full time on running the company, delivering on our customer commitments, and strengthening our focus on product and services safety.
Safety Management & Engineering Focus: On Sept. 30, Boeing announced the formation of a Product and Services Safety organization that will review all aspects of product safety and maintain oversight of our Accident Investigation Team and the company’s safety review boards. The organization’s leader has been named and the team has already begun operating under its new format. Other changes made include realigning the engineering function, establishing a formal Design Requirements Program, enhancing our Continued Operation Safety Program, partnering with our airline customers on flight deck designs that continue to anticipate the needs of future pilot populations, and expanding the reach of our Boeing Safety Promotion Center.
Additional steps taken: Boeing has taken additional measures to increase its focus on operational excellence and strengthen how it manages safety across the company, its supply chain, and the broader aerospace community in an effort to advance global aviation safety. We have broadened the use of a comprehensive safety management system and safety review boards to standardize safety policy and share best practices, led by senior company leadership for enhanced visibility. We are expanding the use of our anonymous reporting system to encourage employees to keep bringing forward potential safety issues. Boeing is also taking additional measures to address the growing need for talent, especially pilots and maintenance technicians, by further investing in STEM education. And we are investing heavily in areas such as product design, future flight decks, infrastructure, regulation and new technologies.
“We continue to make steady progress in safely returning the 737 MAX to service. Our Boeing teams are unwavering in their commitment to our customers and our values, and the changes we’re implementing now will further strengthen our approach to safety across our company and the aerospace community,” said Muilenburg.