Boeing demonstrated the proposed 737 MAX MCAS update before 200 pilots and regulators

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Boeing hosted more than 200 airline pilots, technical leaders and government regulators today to demonstrate the proposed 737 MAX MCAS software update.

737 MAX SOFTWARE UPDATE

Overview

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law was designed and certified for the 737 MAX to enhance the pitch stability of the aeroplane – so that it feels and flies like other 737s.

MCAS is designed to activate in manual flight, with the aeroplane’s flaps up, at an elevated Angle of Attack (AOA).

Boeing has developed an MCAS software update to 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.

The additional layers of protection include:

  • The flight control system will now compare inputs from both AOA sensors. If the sensors disagree by 5.5 degrees or more with the flaps retracted, MCAS will not activate. An indicator on the flight deck display will alert the pilots.
  • If MCAS is activated in non-normal conditions, it will only provide one input for each elevated AOA event. There are no known or envisioned failure conditions where MCAS will provide multiple inputs.
  • MCAS can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column. The pilots will continue to always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the aeroplane.

These updates reduce the crew’s workload in non-normal flight situations and prevent erroneous data from causing MCAS activation.

We continue to work with the FAA and other regulatory agencies on the certification of the software update.

Training

To earn a Boeing 737 type rating, pilots must complete 21 or more days of instructor-led academics and simulator training. Differences training between the NG and MAX includes computer-based training (CBT) and manual review.

Boeing has created updated CBT to accompany the software update. Once approved, it will be accessible to all 737 MAX pilots. This course is designed to provide 737 type-rated pilots with an enhanced understanding of the 737 MAX Speed Trim System, including the MCAS function, associated existing crew procedures and related software changes.

Pilots will also be required to review:

  • Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin
  • Updated Speed Trim Fail Non-Normal Checklist
  • Revised Quick Reference Handbook

737 MAX Flight Deck Displays

All primary flight information required to safely and efficiently operate the 737 MAX is included on the baseline primary flight display. Crew procedures and training for safe and efficient operation of the aeroplane are focused around aeroplane roll and pitch attitude, altitude, heading and vertical speed, all of which are integrated on the primary flight display. All 737 MAX aeroplanes display this data in a way that is consistent with pilot training and the fundamental instrument scan pattern that pilots are trained to use.

The AOA (angle of attack) indicator provides supplementary information to the flight crew. The AOA disagree alert provides additional context for understanding the possible cause of airspeed and altitude differences between the pilot’s and first officer’s displays. Information for these features is provided by the AOA sensors.

There are no pilot actions or procedures during flight which require knowledge of the angle of attack.

 

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