Briefing: May 2019

Boeing took the first steps to get its 737 MAX aircraft back in the air in March with a software update to reduce the influence of an automated pitch control system and reduce the chances that it will trigger spuriously. The focus of the update is the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which was chiefly designed to counter the MAXs tendency to pitch up at high angles of attack while being hand flown and push the nose over in the case of an impending stall. In the original design, MCAS used data from one of two angle of attack indicators to determine the deflection angle of the horizontal stabilizer. Its believed faulty data from an AOA played a role in the fatal crashes of a Lion Air MAX 8 last October and an Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8 in March. The new software is reported to draw data from both AOAs and limit the MCAS to moving the tail feathers only once, instead of repeatedly countering pilot inputs. Implementation of the software was expected in April after FAA review.
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