Report: Safety analysis of 737 MAX software program had 'crucial flaws'

A safety analysis of a new software program that was installed on Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft reportedly had crucial flaws.

Boeing is facing scrutiny over the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a software program that was created to help its new planes avoid stalling in mid-air. The 737 MAX was developed to be more fuel efficient and compete with a popular model released by Airbus, but its bigger engines gave the plane different aerodynamics. Boeing installed the MCAS system as a safety feature.

Investigators are now worried that the MCAS could have malfunctioned or that pilots didn’t have enough training with the new program before it went into use.

An investigation by The Seattle Times found a series of inconsistencies in the safety review of the MCAS. The program was able to maneuver the nose of the planes farther than initially reported and “failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded.”

The Times also noted that elements of the safety review were handed off to Boeing to complete, rather than the Federal Aviation Administration, which has issues with funding and “has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.”

Earlier this month, an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed outside of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second 737 MAX aircraft to crash in less the past year; last October, a Lion Air plane fell into the sea just minutes after taking off from the Jakarta airport. Everyone aboard also died in that incident.

President Donald Trump grounded all of the 737 MAX jets in the United States several days after the Ethiopia Airlines crash. Many other nations around the world had already done the same.

However, the Seattle Times asked Boeing about the circumstances of its MCAS safety review 11 days ago ― before the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight. Boeing issued a terse statement, saying “the FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters of MCAS during MAX certification, and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements.”

The FAA said it followed standard procedure on the safety review.

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Deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash kills all passengers thought to be onboard
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Deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash kills all passengers thought to be onboard
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
A family member of a victim involved in a plane crash talks on a mobile phone at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Family members arrive at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019, to check on information on the Ethiopian flight that crashed. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said. (AP Photo/Elias Masseret)
Un avion des Ethiopian Airlines à destination de Nairobi s'est écrasé dimanche avec 149 passagers et huit membres d'équipage, a annoncé la compagnie. "Il n'y a pas de survivants à bord du vol, qui transportait des passagers de 33 pays", rapporte quant à elle la télévision publique, citant une source proche d'Ethiopian Airlines. /Photo d'archives/REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Family members arrive at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019, to check on information on the Ethiopian flight that crashed. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said. (AP Photo/Elias Masseret)
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2010, file photo, Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. An Ethiopian Airlines flight with 157 people thought to be on board crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday, March 10, 2019 from Ethiopia's capital headed to Nairobi, the airline said. (AP Photo/Samson Haileyesus-file)
Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen and Kenya's Transport Minister James Macharia (L) give a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen speaks during a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese group send messages as informing about their colleagues who were allegedly onboard the plane that crashed in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on March 10 morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese group look at the arrival flight schedule as informing about their colleagues who were allegedly onboard the plane that crashed in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on March 10 morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People use their mobile phones near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 is seen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A man looks at his phone outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A woman walks with her child outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 12: Investigators with the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) look over debris at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 on March 12, 2019 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia.. All 157 passengers and crew perished after the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight came down six minutes after taking off from Bole Airport. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
People work to search for belongings and debris for forensic analysis at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in which their relatives perished among the 157 passengers and crew onboard, at Hama Quntushele village, near Bishoftu, in Oromia region, on March 15, 2019. - A French investigation into the March 10 Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crash that killed 157 passengers and crew opened on March 15 as US aerospace giant Boeing stopped delivering the top-selling aircraft. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Boeing initially told pilots set to fly the new 737 MAX that they wouldn’t need much training to do so if they were familiar with other models of the jetliner, The New York Times reported. Many pilots were able to train briefly on iPads, but couldn’t use an on-ground flight simulator, as is customary for new planes, because the technology hadn’t been built yet.

“We would have liked to have had a simulator” from the start, Jon Weaks, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told The New York Times.

The FAA bases its training procedures on the skill level of American pilots, who are often heavily experienced. Other countries tend to follow U.S. policies, even if their pilots have less experience. Although Boeing has pledged to update its software by April, the aviation company did not announce plans to revamp its training. 

Investigators are also looking into a device on almost all commercial airliners called an angle-of-attack sensor that measures how much lift a plane has and if it can keep flying, per The Washington Post.

The 737 MAX is one of Boeing’s most popular planes with more than 4,600 pending orders. Some airlines are now reconsidering these plans.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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