BOEING VOWS NEW SAFETY PANEL, DESIGN CHANGES IN RESPONSE TO 737 MAX CRASHES

Boeing Co. aims to sharpen its focus on safety after the 737 Max’s grounding ends, forming a new oversight panel and recommending changes to the planemaker’s structure and design practices after two crashes that killed 346 people.

The board’s new Aerospace Safety Committee will supervise the development and manufacturing of Boeing aircraft, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Retired Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, a former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is heading the effort.

The announcement comes at a pivotal moment for Boeing as it finalizes reworked software for the Max, which has been grounded for more than six months. The company, which is seeking to allay public outrage over the tragedies and regain consumer trust, also faces numerous reports and investigations in the weeks ahead that are likely to criticize lapses involving a flight system linked to the crashes.

A final report by Indonesian investigators examining the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air 737 Max is due in November. In the U.S., the National Transportation Safety Board is preparing safety recommendations, Congress is planning hearings and several independent panels are reviewing various aspects of the cases. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation.

Boeing’s reputation has been badly tarnished after its marquee 737 Max jets crashed twice within five months, prompting global regulators in March to ban flights.

According to preliminary reports about the Lion Air disaster and an Ethiopian Airlines accident in March, pilots were overwhelmed by an obscure new flight-control feature added to the Max: the Maneuvering Augmentation Characteristics System. MCAS kicked on because of erroneous sensor readings and repeatedly pushed down the noses of the planes…
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