Boeing cutting 737 MAX production in wake of two deadly crashes

06 April, 2019, 06:27 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Ethiopian Airlines preliminary report Tom Foreman ATH

Boeing's top-selling aircraft has been grounded worldwide since the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which killed 157 people, and came just five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189. That helped boost Boeing's shares 2.9 per cent to US$395.86 at the close in NY, paring the decline since last month's crash to 6.3 per cent.

On Thursday, Boeing recognized the similarities between the two crashes, and acknowledged the role of its anti-stall system.

Upcoming software updates to its automated control system will make it "among the safest airplanes ever to fly", Muilenburg said.

Similarities quickly emerged between the crash and that of an Indonesian Lion Air 737 Max 8 flight in October past year which killed 189 people.

The first time the MCAS software kicked in, the Ethiopian Airlines pilots quickly countered the movement by flicking switches under their thumbs - they had recognized the movements as the same type all flight crews had been warned about after the Lion Air flight.

The Ethiopian Airlines pilots initially followed the advice to shut off the MCAS anti-stall system but later reversed the command counter to guidance at a time when they were traveling beyond maximum operating speeds, according to data contained in a preliminary report released on Thursday and experts on the jet.

Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital the crew had performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing, but safety experts said this was likely to spark debate with USA regulators and Boeing.

As the 737 MAX plunged, G-forces turned negative, pulling occupants out of their seats and possibly inducing a feeling of weightlessness as the plane hurtled toward the ground.

In a statement issued on Thursday, April 4, Muilenburg said the company was keen with the investigations and the engineers were working tirelessly to achieve an effective MCAS software upgrade to avoid similar cases in future.

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He acknowledged for the first time that in certain unsafe situations, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, can cause pilots to lose control of an aircraft in response to erroneous data from the plane's external sensors.

The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events.

The question that has been raised - and it also stems from prior investigations - is why Boeing sold certain fundamental safety features needed by pilots in the cockpit as "extras"?

In one statement, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was apparent that the MCAS system added to what is already a high workload environment.

"Those should literally follow each other", said one USA -based expert, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

According to black-box data released by Ethiopian investigators the pilots struggled to regain control of the plane from the system, which repeatedly tilted the plane downward.

"Safety is our responsibility, and we own it".

Every plane crash typically involves multiple contributors, and the detailed Ethiopian report chronicles many factors that occurred over a matter of minutes leading to the accident. "They said after the Lion Air accident there was going to be a fix, yet there was a second accident with no fix".

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