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Boeing responds to 2nd software problem on troubled 737 Max jets

Boeing responds to 2nd software problem on troubled 737 Max jets


Boeing has found another software issue that needs fixing on its 737 Max jets, and the discovery explains why the aircraft maker is delaying its schedule for getting the planes back in the air.

A Boeing spokesman on Friday called it a “relatively minor issue” and said the plane maker already has a fix in the works.

The spokesman, Charles Bickers, said the latest issue is not part of the flight-control software that Boeing has been working to upgrade for months.

That software, known by its acronym MCAS, is suspected in two recent deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that led regulators to ground the plane worldwide last month.

FAA defends record

Meanwhile, the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told a senator that safety inspectors who certified the Boeing 737 Max jet are properly trained.

In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Daniel Elwell said members of the flight standardization board that evaluated the Max are fully qualified for their jobs.

Committee chairman Roger Wicker wrote in a letter to Elwell that whistleblowers had told senators the inspectors didn’t have all the training required by the agency.

The FAA’s certification of the Max is under scrutiny after the crashes, which killed a total of 346 people.



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Chinese woman arrested after getting past Mar-a-Lago security with 'malicious' software

Chinese woman arrested after getting past Mar-a-Lago security with ‘malicious’ software


A Chinese woman who got through security checkpoints at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida  carrying a thumb drive coded with “malicious” software was arrested on Saturday for entering a restricted property and making false statements to officials, according to a court filing.

Documents filed by the Secret Service on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida say that shortly after noon on Saturday, the woman approached a Secret Service agent screening visitors to Mar-a-Lago seeking entrance to the club.

The woman produced two Chinese passports displaying her photo and said she wanted to go to the pool. Secret Service officers could not initially find her name on an access list for the property, according to the Secret Service affidavit filed with the court.

A club manager said that a man with the same last name was a club member, and even though the woman did not give a clear answer as to whether the man was her father, the Secret Service affidavit says resort officials allowed her on the property on the assumption she was related to a member.

Resort personnel became suspicious after she appeared to have trouble explaining why she was visiting Mar-a-Lago, 
according to the affidavit. 

Event woman claimed to be going to not scheduled

The woman initially said she was there for an event staged by a group called the United Nations Chinese American Association. But resort staff found no such event was scheduled, according to the court filing.

A receptionist then contacted Secret Service personnel who questioned the woman and concluded she did not have “any legitimate documentation” authorizing her entry to Mar-a-Lago, according to the filing.

After detaining her, investigators found in her possession four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive device and a thumb drive, the Secret Service court filing says. Initial examination of the thumb drive determined it contained “malicious malware,” the Secret Service said.

The White House referred questions on the incident to the Secret Service on Tuesday. The Secret Service declined comment, saying the investigation was still open.

In a court filing on Tuesday, a public defender representing Zhang said she was invoking her right to remain silent.

A Justice Department spokeswoman had no comment on the arrest.



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Boeing anti-stall software engaged repeatedly before Ethiopian Airlines crash: sources

Boeing anti-stall software engaged repeatedly before Ethiopian Airlines crash: sources


Boeing anti-stall software repeatedly forced down the nose of a doomed Ethiopian jet after pilots had turned it off, sources told Reuters, as investigators scrutinize the role played by technology and crew in the fatal March 10 crash.

A preliminary Ethiopian report into the disaster, expected soon, may include evidence the software system kicked in as many as four times before the 737 Max dived into the ground, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The software known as MCAS is at the centre of accident probes in both the crash of Ethiopian flight 302 and a Lion Air accident in Indonesia five months earlier that together killed 346 people.

It was not immediately clear whether the Ethiopian crew chose to re-deploy the system, which pushes the Boeing 737 Max downward to avoid stalling. But one of the sources said investigators were studying the possibility that the software started working again without human intervention.

A Boeing spokesperson declined to comment. Ethiopian investigators were not available for comment.

The Ethiopian crash led to a global grounding of 737 Max jets and scrutiny of its certification process. Initial results of the accident investigation are due within days.

The stakes are high. The 737 Max is Boeing’s top-selling jet with almost 5,000 on order. Ethiopian Airlines is also in the midst of an expansion drive, while other 737 Max customers and victims’ families want answers, and potentially compensation.

Erroneous ‘angle of attack’ data

Getting the planes flying again depends partly on the role that Boeing design features are found to have played in the crash, though investigators are also paying attention to airline operations, crew actions and regulatory measures.

Boeing is upgrading the MCAS software and training while stressing that existing cockpit procedures enable safe flight.

People familiar with the investigation have already said the anti-stall software was activated by erroneous “angle of attack” data from a key aircraft sensor.

Now, the investigation has turned toward how MCAS was initially disabled by pilots following a checklist procedure, but then appeared to start working again repeatedly before the jet plunged to the ground, the two sources said.

Boeing issued guidelines to pilots on how to disable the anti-stall system after the Indonesian crash, reminding pilots to use cut-out switches in the console to shut off the system in the event of problems.

Cockpit procedures call for pilots to leave the MCAS system off for the rest of the flight once it has been disengaged.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the pilots had initially followed Boeing’s emergency procedures but later deviated from them as they tried to regain control of the plane.

Disabling the system does not shut down the MCAS system completely but severs an electrical link between the software’s attempts to give orders to push the plane lower and the actual controls, a person familiar with the aircraft system said.

Investigators are studying whether there are any conditions under which MCAS could reactivate itself automatically, without the pilots intentionally reversing the cut-out manoeuvre.

Safety experts stress the investigation is far from complete and most aviation disasters are caused by a unique combination of human and technical factors.

None of the parties involved in the investigation was available for comment.



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