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FAA panel: Boeing 737 Max software update is ‘operationally suitable’

WASHINGTON: A review by a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) panel of Boeing's grounded 737 Max aircraft found a planned software update and training revisions to be "operationally suitable", it said on Tuesday, an important milestone in getting the planes back in the air.

More than 300 Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded worldwide after nearly 350 people died in two crashes, one in Indonesia in October and the other in Ethiopia last month.

Boeing had announced a planned software update on the 737 Max to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system known as Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is under scrutiny following the two disastrous nose-down crashes.

The draft report from the Flight Standardisation Board appointed by the FAA said additional training was needed for MCAS but not required to be done in a simulator.

GROUND TRAINING

The board said ground training "must address system description, functionality, associated failure conditions, and flight crew alerting".

The public has until April 30 to make comments.

The panel evaluated the software update to MCAS for "training and checking differences determination", the report said. "The MCAS system was found to be operationally suitable."

Boeing shares closed up 1.7 per cent after the news. It is under pressure to upgrade the software and convince global regulators that the plane is safe to fly again, a process expected to take at least 90 days.

Despite the stock rebound, investors were advised on Tuesday by the proxy companies Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis to press Boeing to vote for a shareholder proposal to split the role of chairman and chief executive.

ISS said uncertainty about the long-term impact on Boeing over safety problems with the 737 Max was serious enough to merit having an independent board chair. - REUTERS

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