12:02 GMT20 February 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Aviation authorities around the world grounded the 737 MAX after two crashes - in Indonesia and Ethiopia - killed a total of 346 passengers and crew because of a software glitch, which presumably had prevented pilots from turning off a defective autopilot system that forced planes back into the ground shortly after takeoff.

    The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) experienced scarcity of information about the failure of Boeing 737 МАХ automated systems which had caused two such airplanes to crash and kill everyone on board, and failed to immediately ban their flights upon acquiring the necessary information, local media reported on Sunday.

    The FAA had neither performed independent risk evaluation of the defective software, known as Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), before approving the plains for flights in 2017, nor had it collected adequate amount of data about it, the New York Times newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former FAA employees.

    Instead, the FAA leadership often delegated safety checks to the manufacturers, and in the case with Boeing even overruled their own experts’ recommendations under the manufacturer's pressure. Boeing thus obtained complete control over approving the MCAS without having to share its safety assessment details and even went on to adopt a new, riskier version of the software in a bid to overdo its rival Airbus, the newspaper revealed.

    When the Lion Air jet crashed in October last year, the FAA engineers were shocked to discover that their files lacked a complete safety review on MCAS, and that the software relied on a single sensor and could aggressively push down the nose of the plane, according to the newspaper's sources.

    Recovery work continues at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff
    © AP Photo / Mulugeta Ayene
    Recovery work continues at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff

    Despite that, the regulator did not halt Boeing 737 МАХ flights and, instead, issued a notice to pilots about existing emergency procedures and omitting the MCAS issue altogether.

    The reason behind it could have been the industry lobby, with the large manufacturers obtaining more freedom of action and the FAA covering more work with less effort, the newspaper concluded.

    Earlier in April, Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said that new anti-crash software on Boeing 737 MAX jets had successfully completed trial runs on 96 test flights. According to him, Boeing has also trained pilots from two-thirds of more than 50 airlines on simulators with the new software. Shortly after, US President Donald Trump suggested that the company rebrand this aircraft.


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