The Federal Aviation Administration said the changes to cockpit
automation, if adopted, would affect 497 Boeing 737s, specifically
the 600 and its later models. Chicago-based Boeing said another 778
jets would be affected if aviation regulators outside the United
States adopt the FAA proposal.
Boeing said in an email to Reuters that the FAA's proposed rule
would order actions the company had previously recommended to
A plane's altimeter measures altitude. The fix would prevent a false
reading from triggering the plane's automatic throttle control to
reduce speed on landing, possibly leading to a loss of control, the
A Boeing spokesman said he did not have any information on how much
the changes could cost. It was not immediately clear who would be
responsible for implementing the changes if approved.
In 2009, a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed as it was nearing
an Amsterdam airport when a faulty altimeter caused the automatic
pilot to cut power and the pilots failed to notice in time,
according to a Dutch safety board report. Nine of the 135 people
onboard were killed.
Boeing said that since 2010 its production of the 737s has included
software changes to the flight control computer and a cockpit voice
warning pilots when airspeeds are low.
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Questions about pilot reliance on automated flight controls in large
passenger jets also were raised after the July crash of a Boeing 777
into a seawall at San Francisco airport. Three passengers died.
The pilots of the Asiana Airlines flight realized too late that the
plane was flying too low and slowly even though they had set the
auto-throttle control system to keep the plane at a constant speed.
The FAA is seeking public comment on the 737 proposal for 45 days. A
timeline for final approval was not immediately clear, but the
changes would need to be implemented in three years if approval is
(Reporting by Eric Beech; additional
reporting by Nicola Leske; editing by Amanda Kwan)
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