Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued an apology Thursday to the families of victims in the 737 MAX crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
“These tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and we extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” Muilenburg wrote in a blog post. “All of us feel the immense gravity of these events across our company and recognize the devastation of the families and friends of the loved ones who perished.”
Muilenburg wrote that Boeing was nearing completion on a fix to a safety system that activated before both deadly crashes and would be ready to deploy it “in the weeks ahead.” Details of the fix, which were unveiled to pilots last week, focus on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which can automatically lower the plane’s nose to prevent stalls.
“This update, along with the associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of these accidents, will eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again,” Muilenburg wrote.
The apology came hours after a preliminary report from Ethiopia’s government was released that found the pilots of the March 10 crash that killed 157 people performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing when the plane started to nosedive but weren’t able to save it.
Ethiopia’s report didn’t specifically mention MCAS, but recommended Boeing review "the aircraft flight control system related to the flight controllability."
Despite the pressure Boeing has been under since the second crash of its best-selling airliner in six months, Muilenburg said he remains optimistic and confident in the safety of the 737 MAX.
“Together, we’ll do everything possible to earn and re-earn that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the weeks and months ahead,” Muilenburg said.