Are Boeing and the FAA complicit in two B737 Max 8 crashes and 346 deaths?

Boeing plays down system flaws as two planes crash and the B737 Max 8 is grounded in China.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that management decisions by Boeing, and lax regulatory oversight to help Boeing in the competition against the A320, have now together contributed to two crashes and 346 deaths.

Any passenger on a B737 Max 8 would be justified in asking – before boarding –  if the pilots knew how to override the MCAS system


In October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 flying from Jakarta on a domestic flight crashed 13 minutes after take-off, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.

Now an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 has crashed, again shortly after takeoff killing 157.

It is highly likely that in spite of much “damage control” publicity aimed at blaming the pilots in the Lion Air case, it was a design flaw in in a little known system which forced both planes to crash.

Lion Air Flight JT610went down shortly after takeoff in October 2018. A little-known system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was suspected to be a factor in the disaster, according to a preliminary report by Indonesian investigators in November. MCAS is an automatic feature that detects if the nose of the plane is pitched up too high and pushes it down to prevent the craft from stalling. The system is needed since the engines on the 737 Max are bigger than previous models of 737s. …… 

In the Lion Air crash, Indonesian investigators suspect a faulty sensor triggered the MCAS system, forcing the nose of the plane down. The preliminary report determined the pilots tried to raise the nose of the aircraft more than 20 times during the 11 minutes it was in the air. Eventually, the pilots told air traffic controllers they were flying the plane manually and couldn’t determine their altitude. The plane plunged into the sea moments later.

The similarities between the two crashes are unlikely to be just coincidence.

  • Both Aircraft Were Boeing 737 MAX 8s
  • Both Crashes Happened Shortly After Takeoff
  • Both pilots Struggled to Maintain A Steady Climb
  • Both were first Flights of the Day

What is of more relevance is that Boeing (allowed by the FAA) decided it was not necessary to inform pilots about software changes to the MCAS system to save on pilot retraining costs. Ways of getting around the design flaw which kept forcing the nose down were not disseminated in the effort to downplay the flaw and to save costs. The NYT reported on 3rd February:

Boeing’s strategy set off a cascading series of engineering, business and regulatory decisions that years later would leave the company facing difficult questions about the crash in October of a Lion Air 737 Max off Indonesia. …….

……. But the tragedy has become a focus of intense interest and debate in aviation circles because of another factor: the determination by Boeing and the F.A.A. that pilots did not need to be informed about a change introduced to the 737’s flight control system for the Max, some software coding intended to automatically offset the risk that the size and location of the new engines could lead the aircraft to stall under certain conditions.

That judgment by Boeing and its regulator was at least in part a result of the company’s drive to minimize the costs of pilot retraining. And it appears to have left the Lion Air crew without a full understanding of how to address a malfunction that seems to have contributed to the crash: faulty data erroneously indicating that the plane was flying at a dangerous angle, leading the flight control system to repeatedly push the plane’s nose down.

…… Those decisions ultimately prompted the company, regulators and airlines to conclude that training or briefing pilots on the change to the flight control system was unnecessary for carrying out well-established emergency procedures.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that management decisions by Boeing, and lax regulatory oversight to help Boeing in the competition against the A320, have now together contributed to two crashes and 346 deaths.

China has now grounded all Boeing 737 max 8 aircraft.


 

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2 Responses to “Are Boeing and the FAA complicit in two B737 Max 8 crashes and 346 deaths?”

  1. Michael Ogazie Says:

    Reblogged this on michael's blog and commented:
    OH SORRY!

  2. If the Ethiopian Air crash is a repeat of the Lion Air crash then Boeing has blood on its hands | The k2p blog Says:

    […] just opinions « Are Boeing and the FAA complicit in two B737 Max 8 crashes and 346 deaths? […]

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