A top Boeing executive apologised Monday for two crashes of 737 MAX jets that together killed 346 people, disasters which have pushed safety to the top of the agenda as aerospace firms gathered for the opening of the Paris Air Show.
The US aerospace giant is battling to regain the trust of passengers, pilots and regulators after a 737 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air flight crashed last October, followed by an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March.
“We are very sorry for the loss of lives as a result of the tragic accidents… our thoughts and our prayers are with their families,” Boeing’s head of commercial aircraft Kevin McAllister told journalists at the air show.
“Our priority is doing everything to get this plane safely returned to service. It is a pivotal moment for all of us,” he said.
But McAllister and other executives faced a barrage of questions over Boeing’s handling of the 737 MAX disasters, thought to be caused by a faulty MCAS anti-stall system.
Critics accuse Boeing of failing to sufficiently test a system that used just one sensor to determine if the 737 was at risk of stalling, and of failing to adequately inform and train pilots.
Reports also suggest that US safety regulators allowed Boeing engineers to self-certify the system, prompting worries of insufficient oversight at the planemaker.
McAllister said a planned fix for the anti-stall software would use two sensors, but it has yet to submit its proposal to regulators, who have grounded the plane indefinitely.
“We are very confident that the three layers of protection we are planning with the software update will prevent anything like this happening again,” he said.