As investigators work to determine what caused two deadly crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, lawmakers are set to question U.S. aviation safety officials for the first time today about why they continued to approve the aircraft, despite reported problems with its software.
An anonymous federal database shows there were several complaints from pilots here in the United States about the 737 Max aircrafts detailing software problems similar to those that were reported in recent deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Members of the Senate’s Commerce subcommittee will likely ask about why aviation officials continued to give Boeing the greenlight, despite the software problems and no evidence of a definite solution.
Boeing is also set to hold a meeting today at its production facility near Seattle, where more than 200 airline pilots, technical leaders and regulators have been invited. Boeing claims it plans to solve the problems with the 737 Max’s automated flight control system by updating the plane’s software, cockpit alerts and pilot training.
For now, all of the 737 Max aircrafts have been grounded here in the U.S. and airlines are transferring the planes to storage. There were reports of an emergency landing in Orlando, Florida, with a Southwest Airlines flight that was being transferred to Victorville, California.
There were no passengers on board, and the two pilots flying the plane requested the landing because they said they noticed a performance issue with one of the engines shortly after takeoff.
It is not yet clear whether the issue with this plane is related to the software issues that have been reported with other 737 Max aircrafts.
For now, other countries appear to be losing trust in Boeing. Indonesia is canceling a $6 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing a lack of trust from customers in the aircraft.
While Boeing is struggling, business is picking up for its competitor, Airbus. China was one of the first countries to ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and it recently signed a multi-billion-dollar agreement to buy multiple aircrafts from Airbus.
Now it remains to be seen what U.S. aviation officials will say about why they chose to continue their support for the 737 Max, and if the planes will return to the skies anytime soon, following Boeing’s claim of a software update.