Canadian official's email saying 737 Max software must go reflects 'working-level' view
Anti-stalling system tied to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia
An email sent by an official at Transport Canada urging Boeing to remove an anti-stall system involved in two 737 Max crashes reflects "working-level discussions" and was not reviewed by the Canadian regulator, the agency said on Friday.
The New York Times reported that an engineering manager in aircraft integration and safety assessment at Transport Canada emailed international regulators on Tuesday, saying: "The only way I see moving forward at this point" is that Boeing's Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) "has to go."
The email was sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency, the New York Times said.
A person briefed on the matter confirmed the content of the email, but Reuters had not viewed a copy.
The anti-stall MCAS system has been tied to Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people. The Max has been grounded since March.
"The email reflects working-level discussions between highly trained aircraft certification experts of key aviation authorities who have been given wide latitude for assessing all issues and looking at all alternatives for the safe return to service of the aircraft," Transport Canada said in a statement. "The views are at the working level and have not been subject to systematic review by Transport Canada."
The FAA said in a statement that its international partners have "engaged in robust discussions at various stages in this process as part of the thorough scrutiny of Boeing's work. This email is an example of those exchanges."
Earlier Friday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the department isn't committing to a date for the aircraft's return.
"When we feel that the Max 8 problem has been totally resolved with respect to hardware, software, procedures, and training, and that our partners — other regulators agree with us — and that we're all on the same wavelength and we've had a chance to validate the fix, that's when we'll talk about flying again," Garneau said.
Boeing settles 63 Indonesia cases
Boeing is working to win regulatory approvals for proposed fixes to MCAS and associated pilot training as part of its efforts to win approval for the 737 Max to fly again.
In a statement, Boeing said on Friday it "continues to work with the FAA and global regulators to provide them the information they are requesting to certify the Max for safe return to service."
A Boeing spokesman said Friday the company has settled 63 cases tied to the crash of a plane flown by Indonesia's Lion Air. The company did not disclose terms of the settlements.
A lawyer for Boeing revealed the pace of negotiations with families of passengers during a hearing in federal district court Thursday in Chicago.
Many of the lawsuits blame Boeing for not telling pilots about the new flight-control system that repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down before it crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 aboard.
Boeing faces dozens of additional lawsuits over the crash four months later in Ethiopia that killed 157.
The Chicago-based company got a boost this week, however, when Turkey's SunExpress announced it will buy 10 more Max jets and a startup budget carrier in Kazakhstan said it plans to order 30 Max jets.
For the past year, Boeing has been making changes to flight software on the Max. The company recently said it expects FAA approval in January for pilot-training material. That would be the last major step before U.S. airlines can resume using their Max jets, but first Boeing must demonstrate its work on one or more certification flights with the FAA, which have not yet been scheduled.
Last week, FAA administrator Stephen Dickson said, "There is a lot of pressure to return this aircraft to service quickly." He told agency workers to take the time they need to ensure the Max is safe before it flies again.
Separately, a key lawmaker said this week he wants an investigation of FAA oversight of repair shops, citing a Florida company that repaired a sensor that misfired during the Lion Air flight, triggering the nose-down action of the plane. Indonesian investigators said the sensor was likely not calibrated properly during repair.
Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House transportation committee, said revelations about Xtra Aerospace made him question the work of the FAA, which has 729 inspectors to police more than 4,000 repair shops. The FAA revoked Xtra's certificate last month, although the company said the punishment was not related to the sensor on the Lion Air jet.
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press