FAA asks for help from NASA and Air Force for the review of updated 737 MAX software


Washington, D.C. - The Federal Aviation Administration asks for help from NASA and the Air Force for the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX's MCAS to be certain that the aircraft is safe to fly again.

On May 7, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was establishing a "Technical Advisory Board" for the review of Boeing's updated anti-stall system known as MCAS.

The system was linked to the two recent fatal 737MAX 8 crashes in less than half a year. The improvements made to the system by Boeing to prevent future failures must be approved by the FAA before the aircraft is allowed to fly again.

The board comprises experts from the FAA, NASA, the US Air Force, and a branch of the Department of Transportation. None of these institutions were involved in the primary certification of the Boeing 737 MAX jets.

The FAA said that the Technical Advisory Board will help the FAA to name issues where further investigation is needed.

Boeing 737 MAXs have been grounded worldwide since March after the second deadly crash of the Boeing's best selling single-aisle jet in Ethiopia. Last year in October, another Boeing 737 MAX jet operated by Lion Air had crashed in Indonesia. 346 people in total lost their lives in the two crashes.

The FAA's decision to establish a Technical Advisory Board for the review of 737 MAX's updated anti-stall system came after a federal investigation and Congressional scrutiny, which focus on the practices of the Agency performed to certify the aircraft.

FAA reposts draft training standards of MCAS for more comment

On the other hand, the FAA has reposted the revised draft of minimum MCAS training standards for the comments of third parties such as the airline operators, foreign aviation regulators and airline pilots. The new comment deadline is May 15.

The draft Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report doesn't propose simulator training for the MCAS and failure scenarios of the system.

"The training “must include the MCAS in a list of “special emphasis areas” covered in ground training. MCAS ground training must address system description, functionality, associated failure conditions, and flight crew alerting. These items must be included in initial, upgrade, transition, differences, and recurrent training. It would be Level B or computer-based training," the report says.

The first comment deadline for the FSB report was at the end of April. This date was extended to May 15 by the U.S. regulator since some pilot unions said they were not given enough time to comment on the proposals.

Boeing has been modifying the MCAS software of the MAX jets and training required for the system, which was linked to the recent fatal crashes.

While the new training standards approved by the FAA do not include simulator time, some pilot groups in the United States such as ALPA insist on the simulator time for MCAS including failure scenarios.