Boeing 737 Max production line at the Renton Factory. Photo: Boeing
Boeing reported a combined 209 deliveries of commercial and defense fixed and rotary wing aircraft during the first three months of 2019, including 89 deliveries of the grounded 737 MAX.
737 MAX deliveries accounted for the highest totals in the first quarter for Boeing, which is lowering the aircraft’s monthly production rate from 52 to 42 airplanes per month starting in mid-April. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a statement acknowledging the cause of the the recent Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents resulting from a chain of events beginning with the maneuvering characteristic augmentation system (MCAS).
FAA’s certification division is currently reviewing a software update intended to correct the functionality of the MCAS, which is empowered to automatically adjust the tail to angle the nose of the plane downward without the pilot's involvement.
“As we continue to work through these steps, we're adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in MAX deliveries, allowing us to prioritize additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the MAX to flight,” Muilenburg said in a statement.
“At a production rate of 42 airplanes per month, the 737 program and related production teams will maintain their current employment levels while we continue to invest in the broader health and quality of our production system and supply chain,” he added.
New training and supplemental educational material are also being developed for 737 MAX pilots. The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety published a preliminary report into the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, finding that the pilots were unable to regain control of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft despite following Boeing’s safety procedures after the plane’s automated flight control systems repeatedly activated due to a faulty sensor.
BEA’s report notes that the FDR’s recorded values from the aircraft’s angle of attack sensor became erroneous shortly after taking off. The flight crew completely lost control of the aircraft about six minutes after taking off.
Boeing also delivered a total of 36 787 Dreamliners between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31, 2019. Their highest delivery total for defense aircraft during that period was 22 remanufactured AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Check out Muilenburg’s full video statement commenting on the release of the preliminary report here.