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Boeing chief reinforces safety focus in open letter

Boeing chairman, president and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg has released an open letter to airlines, passengers and the aviation community reinforcing the company’s commitment to safety, as most of the global fleet of Boeing 737 Max aircraft enters its second week of groundings.

The letter repeatedly affirmed Boeing’s commitment to safety, and its unity with regulators and airline customers to understand what happened in the 10 March crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 and the 29 October crash of Lion Air Flight 610.

“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we’re taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 Max. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet’s grounding,” states Muilenburg.

Both crashes involved near-new 737 Max 8s, and a number of similarities between the accidents led authorities around the world to progressively ground the type over the last week.

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Photo: Max Kingsley-Jones

“We’ve been working in full cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board on all issues relating to both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines accidents since the Lion Air accident occurred in October last year,” says Muilenburg.

Boeing is also providing technical assistance to the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau, which is leading the investigation into the ET302 crash.

In recent days, Ethiopian transport minister Dagmawit Moges commented that data retrieved from the flight data recorders on the ET302 aircraft showed similarities to the JT610 crash. That has once again put focus on the Max's flight control systems, and specifically the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that appeared to cause the Lion Air jet to enter into a descent that the pilots could not arrest.

In his letter, Muilenburg also reiterated that a software update and related pilot training for the Max will be released soon, which “will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.”

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