Boeing has said it is slowing production of the 737 MAX so it can focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in two deadly crashes.
The aircraft-maker said it is “making progress” on updated 737 MAX software that it hopes will prevent future accidents.
Boeing’s chief executive Dennis Muilenburg admitted the “erroneous activation” of the MCAS software had been a “common link” between the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air.
Both crashes involved the 737 MAX 8, which has an automated system that pushes the plane’s nose down when the possibility of an aerodynamic stall is detected.
Mr Muilenburg said in a statement: “We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it.
“As part of this effort, we’re making progress on the 737 MAX software update that will prevent accidents like these from ever happening again.
“Teams are working tirelessly, advancing and testing the software, conducting non-advocate reviews, and engaging regulators and customers worldwide as we proceed to final certification.”
The crash in Ethiopia on 10 March killed all 157 people on board and a preliminary report , based on flight data and cockpit voice recorders, showed the faulty sensor sparked a series of events that caused the pilots to lose control of the plane.
The problems were similar to those reported on the Indonesian Lion Air flight that crashed last October, killing all 189 people on board.
The 737 MAX was grounded by the world’s aviation authorities after the Ethiopia crash.
Mr Muilenburg said that the firm would adjust its 737 production to allow it to prioritise software certification and returning the MAX to flight.
This will see it move from a rate of 52 planes per month to 42 from mid-April.
“At a production rate of 42 airplanes per month, the 737 programme and related production teams will maintain their current employment levels while we continue to invest in the broader health and quality of our production system and supply chain,” he said.
Boeing is finalising new pilot training courses and educational material for airlines using the MAX.
Also, the firm’s board of directors has been asked to form a committee to review policies and processes for aircraft design and development.
Mr Muilenburg said: “Safety is our responsibility, and we own it.
“When the MAX returns to the skies, we’ve promised our airline customers and their passengers and crews that it will be as safe as any airplane ever to fly.”
Shares in Boeing fell around 1% as the market closed on Friday.