(Image courtesy: The Boeing Company via Twitter)

Boeing flies first 737 MAX 7 with updated MCAS software

It is still unclear when the update will be rolled out.

Chicago-based Boeing recently completed a “demo flight” of a 737 MAX 7 narrow-body airliner equipped with updated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software.

The MCAS flight control law was originally designed to enhance the pitch stability of the 737 MAX during to make the handling similar to that of other 737 models. The system initiates during manual flight when the aircraft has an elevated angle of attack (AOA) and flaps up.

“We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. These tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and we extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. All of us feel the immense gravity of these events across our company and recognize the devastation of the families and friends of the loved ones who perished,” said Boeing Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Muilenburg, in a statement published today.

“The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports, but, with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident investigation, it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information,” continued Muilenburg.

According to Boeing, the MCAS software update will “provide additional layers of protection if the AOA sensors provide erroneous data. The software was put through hundreds of hours of analysis, laboratory testing, verification in a simulator and two test flights, including an in-flight certification test with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives on board as observers.”


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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