Archive for the ‘Boeing 737 MAX’ Category

Ethiopian Airlines flight’s stall prevention software was active at crash, CEO says

March 25th, 2019
BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 11:  Parts of an engine and landing gear lie in a pile after being gathered by workers during the continuing recovery efforts at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.

Enlarge / BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 11: Parts of an engine and landing gear lie in a pile after being gathered by workers during the continuing recovery efforts at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. (credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published today that he had reason to believe that software intended to prevent Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from stalling in flight had been activated aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly before its crash. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that “to the best of our knowledge,” the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) for stall prevention was active at the time of the crash.

This is the first time anyone connected to the Flight 302 investigation has specifically referenced the flight software as being involved. Ethiopian and French investigators had noted similarities in flight data to that of the ill-fated Lion Air Flight 610, a crash that was determined to be at least partially caused by the MCAS software’s malfunction due to a faulty sensor input. Investigators also cited the Flight 302 crew’s lack of training on how to shut the MCAS system down in the critical moments before the crash.

Gebremariam did not share what details he had received that led to his conclusion. But he did say that it would be difficult for Boeing to restore trust in the 737 MAX aircraft’s safety, and he was critical of Boeing’s failure to do more to inform airlines of the changes in operation related to MCAS when it was introduced. “In retrospect I would have expected them to have been more transparent on the MCAS, the technicalities of the MCAS, what it does and what it doesn’t do,” he told The Wall Street Journal. And after the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia, the CEO said, “more should have been done from the Boeing side in terms of disclosure, in terms of coming up with strong procedures, stronger than what they gave us.”

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Posted in Biz & IT, Boeing 737 MAX, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 | Comments (0)

Boeing takes $5 billion hit as Indonesian airline cancels 737 MAX order

March 22nd, 2019
A Garuda Indonesia 737-800. The airline is moving to cancel orders for the 737 MAX after the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.

Enlarge / A Garuda Indonesia 737-800. The airline is moving to cancel orders for the 737 MAX after the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. (credit: Boeing)

Indonesia's largest air carrier has informed Boeing that it wants to cancel a $4.9 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Garuda Indonesia spokesperson Ikhsan Rosan said in a statement to the Associated Press that the airline was cancelling due to concern that “its business would be damaged due to customer alarm over the crashes.”

Garuda had originally ordered 50 737 MAX aircraft, and Boeing delivered the first of those aircraft in December of 2017. The airline already operates 77 older Boeing 737 models; two of the aircraft ordered were conversions from earlier orders for 737-800s. Garuda also flies Boeing's 777-300 ER, and the company retired its 747-400 fleet in the last few years—so the airline was looking for an economical long-range aircraft to fill in gaps.

But the stigma now attached to the 737 MAX 8 may have spoiled that relationship. The airline also has orders in for 14 of Airbus' A330neo, a wide-body design comparable to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner; the airline also flies 24 earlier-model A330s. If Garuda successfully breaks its deal with Boeing, the likely winner will be Airbus. Airbus' A320neo is the most comparable aircraft to the 737 MAX in cost and range.

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Safety feature that could have prevented 737 MAX crashes sold by Boeing as an option

March 21st, 2019
Boeing passenger jet shortly after takeoff.

Enlarge (credit: Marian Lockhart / Boeing)

The crashed Lion Air 737 MAX and the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX aircraft had more in common than aircraft design and the apparently malfunctioning flight system that led to their demises. Both of the planes lacked optional safety features that would have alerted the pilots to problems with their angle of attack (AOA) sensors—the input suspected of causing the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software to put both aircraft into a fatal dive.

The New York Times reports that both vehicles lacked an "AOA disagree" light—a warning light that indicates when the aircraft's two AOA sensors provide different readings—and an angle of attack indicator. Since the MCAS system relied only on one of the aircraft's AOA sensors, the disagree light and AOA indicator would have given the flight crew visible evidence of a sensor failure and prompted them to disable the MCAS. But both of these features were sold by Boeing as expensive add-ons. And many discount and smaller airlines declined to purchase them, as they were not required by regulators.

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Posted in air safety, Biz & IT, Boeing 737 MAX, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, flight control systems, Lion Air Flight 610, MCAS | Comments (0)

737 MAX crashes “linked” by satellite track data, FAA says

March 14th, 2019
Relatives of the victims of the Sunday plane crash take a picture next to a pile of airplane fuselage at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at Hama Quntushele village in the Oromia region, on March 13, 2019. - A Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including tourists, business travelers, and "at least a dozen" UN staff. Families of the victims were taken to the remote site on March 13, 2019, where the plane smashed into a field with 157 passengers and crew from 35 countries, leaving a deep black crater and tiny scraps of debris.

Enlarge / Relatives of the victims of the Sunday plane crash take a picture next to a pile of airplane fuselage at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at Hama Quntushele village in the Oromia region, on March 13, 2019. - A Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including tourists, business travelers, and "at least a dozen" UN staff. Families of the victims were taken to the remote site on March 13, 2019, where the plane smashed into a field with 157 passengers and crew from 35 countries, leaving a deep black crater and tiny scraps of debris. (credit: TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on March 13, citing new data that showed a possible link between the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and the crash of a Lion Air flight off the coast of Indonesia last October. In an interview with NPR's David Greene this morning, acting FAA Director Dan Ewell said that "newly refined satellite data" from a flight telemetry system had led the agency to make the move.

Both Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (ET302) and Lion Air Flight 610 (JT610) were recently acquired 737 MAX 8 aircraft, and both were lost with all aboard just minutes after take-off. According to the emergency order issued by the FAA, "new information from the wreckage concerning the aircraft's configuration just after takeoff that, taken together with newly refined data from satellite-based tracking of the aircraft's flight path, indicates some similarities between the ET302 JT610 accidents that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed."

The source of the data in question is a combination of telemetry feeds from the flights' Automatic Dependent Surveillance(ADS) system. Introduced in the US in 2001 and more widely worldwide in the wake of the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 in 2014, Europe has required most aircraft to carry the UHF-band ADS-Broadcast (ADS-B) system since 2017, and the FAA has mandated ADS-B for most aircraft by 2020.

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Posted in ADS-B, aviation mishaps, Biz & IT, Boeing 737 MAX, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, FAA, Lion Air Flight 610 | Comments (0)

US to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets in wake of crash [Updated]

March 13th, 2019
A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed in October 2018; a software fix based on the investigation was delayed by the US government shutdown. It's possible that the fix could have prevented the crash of a similar aircraft in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019.

Enlarge / A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed in October 2018; a software fix based on the investigation was delayed by the US government shutdown. It's possible that the fix could have prevented the crash of a similar aircraft in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019. (credit: PK-REN, Jakarta, Indonesia )

Update: President Donald Trump announced Wednesday afternoon that the Federal Aviation Administration will order all 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 planes be grounded.

"We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line," Trump said. "Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern."

Original story: Despite two crashes within six months, a growing number of grounding orders worldwide for the Boeing 737 MAX, and a number of recent complaints from US pilots over problems with the aircraft's automatic trim controls, the Federal Aviation Administration continues to allow the 737 MAX to fly. "The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators," a Boeing spokesperson said in a March 12 statement.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Boeing 737 MAX, flight control software, MCAS | Comments (0)

Indonesia 737 crash caused by “safety” feature change pilots weren’t told of

November 13th, 2018
SONY DSC

Enlarge / SONY DSC (credit: PK-REN, Jakarta, Indonesia )

On November 6, Boeing issued an update to Boeing 737 MAX aircrews. The change, directed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), came because Boeing had never provided guidance to pilots on what to do when part of an updated safety system malfunctioned—the very scenario that the pilots of Indonesia's Lion Air Flight 610 faced on October 29. Not knowing how to correct for the malfunction, the aircrew and their passengers were doomed. All aboard were lost as the aircraft crashed into the Java Sea.

First approved for commercial operation by the FAA on March 8, 2017, the MAX is just beginning to be delivered in large volumes. Lion Air was one of Boeing's primary foreign customers for the MAX, which is also flown by Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Air Canada. The Lion Air aircraft lost in the accident was virtually brand new, delivered by Boeing in August; this was the first accident involving an aircraft touted for its safety.

But Boeing never told pilots about one key new safety feature—an automated anti-stall system—or how to troubleshoot its failure. The manual update raised an outcry from pilots in the US.

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Posted in aircraft accidents, airline accidents, American Airlines, automated safety systems, Biz & IT, Boeing, Boeing 737 MAX, Indonesia, Lion Air Flight 610, southwest airlines | Comments (0)