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After first flight, 737 Max 10 won't fly passengers until Boeing gets more safety measures approved

Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

After the fourth and largest model of Boeing's 737 Max had landed safely in Seattle at the end of its first flight Friday, Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the reason for the extended certification process ahead is that Boeing needs time to develop and certify the additional safety enhancements to the Max demanded in particular by the European aviation regulator after the two fatal crashes.

As a result, though the Max 10 was originally scheduled to enter service last year, it won't do so until 2023 — after at least two years of flight tests — to provide ample time to address all regulatory requirements and test all the technical details.

"We're going to take our time on this certification," Deal said, in a short interview, his first since taking over Boeing Commercial Airplanes in October 2019.

"We're committed to make further safety enhancements," he said. "We need the time to do that, to allow the regulators to be on the airplane."

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in January approved the Max to fly again after Boeing fixed the flawed flight control system directly responsible for the crashes in 2018 and 2019. However, EASA insisted that before the Max 10 entered service, Boeing had to introduce further safety improvements.

It asked for the addition of some third way of measuring the jet's angle of attack as well as enhancements to the crew alerting systems.

 

The flight control system that went awry on the crash flights was triggered by a single faulty reading of the plane's angle of attack, which is the angle between the wing and the oncoming air. Boeing's current fix creates a system check that compares the angle of attack readings from the two sensors on either side of the cockpit.

However, EASA — as well as critics such as celebrated U.S. pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger — have insisted two sensors isn't enough. Deal confirmed that Boeing engineers are working on a way to provide a third indication of the angle of attack reading before the Max 10 flies passengers.

This is what's called a "synthetic" sensor, a system that provides an additional, indirect angle of attack calculation using a variety of different sensors and inputs.

EASA was also concerned that the pilots on both crash flights were confused by a cacophony of warning alerts going off simultaneously.

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