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Boeing’s CEO admitted on Thursday that a failure of its software was one of the causes in the recent deadly 737 Max jet crashes. Dennis Muilenburg said a new software update would prevent future incidents.
“It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk,” Muilenburg said in a video message on Thursday. “We own it, and we know how to do it.”
Muilenburg’s acknowledgement of Boeing’s responsibility came after the release earlier Thursday of a preliminary report on the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 people on board. In the report, Ethiopian investigators said the jet’s pilots followed all safety procedures before the crash.
Though the pilots followed procedures, the report said false sensor readings activated the jet’s automatic system against stalling, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The jet nose-dived minutes after takeoff, similarly to when Lion Air Flight 610, another 737 Max, crashed last October and killed all 189 people on board.
The crashes prompted airlines and international regulators to ground their 737 Max jets, and pilots accused Boeing of failing to train them on the MCAS system.
On Thursday, Muilenburg said a software update would be ready to implement within weeks.
“This update, along with the associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of these accidents, will eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again,”
He said Boeing remained confident in the safety of its jet.
“When the Max returns to the skies with the software changes to the MCAS function, it will be among the safest airplanes ever to fly,” he said.
A report on the cause of the Lion Air crash has not yet been released, and Muilenburg stressed that any air crash was the result of a chain of events. He added that he hoped Boeing would again earn the trust of air travelers.
“We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 Max accidents. These tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and we extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” he said. “All of us feel the immense gravity of these events across our company and recognize the devastation of the families and friends of the loved ones who perished.”