Boeing 737 Max makes emergency landing in Orlando

Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged Wednesday to do all it can to prevent crashes like the two that killed almost 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Southwest said the plane's pilots reported a "performance issue" with an engine shortly after taking off for the California airport, where it was flying to be in short-term storage.

In a report by CNBC, the Southwest Flight 8701 had taken off from the airport before 3pm en route Carlifornia for storage but returned to Orlando International Airport where it landed safely.

Boeing has been under intense scrutiny of US federal regulators since a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashed near the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The plane involved in the incident is one of 34 Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the Southwest fleet that were grounded by an FAA emergency order earlier this month after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302.

Soon after the second 737 MAX crash in just five months that took the lives of 157 passengers on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the aviation giant announced a patch named 12.1 that would implement "additional limits and safeguards" to the MCAS.

As investigation on Boeing 737 Max 8 progresses, another plane of its model made an emergency landing shortly after departing Orlando. Should it do so, the MCAS system automatically trims the nose down, in an effort to avoid a stall.

A Senate Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing today to question FAA Acting Administration Daniel Elwell and Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel.

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Once the FAA had signed off on the jet, other regulatory agencies around the world followed the American regulator's lead.

Elwell said FAA engineers and pilots have tested the update in a simulator and the plane, including recovering from an aerodynamic stall, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. The plane was sent to a maintenance hangar after it landed.

Pilots in the October crash in Indonesia appeared to struggle against an automated feature known as MCAS, which is created to push the nose of the plane down if an external sensor detects the plane may be stalling, according to a preliminary report.

An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport March 13, 2019.

Aviation officials in several countries jumped ahead of the FAA in grounding the Max after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max slammed into the ground on March 10. Boeing has grounded all 737 Max 8 flights after two deadly crashes in recent months.

This week Boeing is also briefing airlines on software and training updates for the MAX, with more than 200 global airline pilots, technical experts and regulators due in Renton, Washington, where the plane is built. Cruz said his goal is to find out what caused the crashes and determine how future crashes can be prevented.

The planemaker has developed an update to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, according to a company statement late Tuesday. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

In the wake of both accidents, which a team of French investigators say showed "clear similarities" to each other, both Boeing and the FAA have come under intense scrutiny.

  • Sonia Alvarado