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Boeing's 737 MAX back in spotlight after second fatal crash

Boeing's 737 MAX back in spotlight after second fatal crash

Postby smix » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:21 pm

Boeing's 737 MAX back in spotlight after second fatal crash
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethi ... SKBN1QR0SV
Category: Aircraft
Published: March 10, 2019

Description: CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The latest version of Boeing Co’s best-selling 737 family - a global industry workhorse - has again been thrust into the spotlight after a fatal crash in Ethiopia, months after a deadly crash involving an identical brand-new jet in Indonesia. A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Adaba, killing all 157 on board. The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board. There are still unanswered questions about the causes of the Lion Air crash, and officials and safety experts said it was too soon to draw links with the Ethiopian incident. Boeing did not respond to questions about the 737 MAX 8 on Sunday but said in a statement it would send a technical team to the crash site to provide assistance. Boeing’s shares lost 12 percent in the weeks following the Lion Air crash, but have more than recouped those declines, closing on Friday at $422.54, 18 percent higher than before the Oct. 29 incident in Indonesia. Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners. The decades-old 737 family is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft. Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January. Former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said the catastrophic crashes of two new airplanes soon after the 737 MAX 8 was introduced were “highly unusual” and both had broad similarities in that they went down soon after takeoff. While it is unclear if there is a direct link, “this is now an extraordinary issue” for aviation safety officials to grapple with and will prompt a sweeping investigation to determine if there are common issues, Rosenker said. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co is the biggest operator of the MAX 8, with 31 aircraft, followed by American Airlines Group Inc and Air Canada with 24 each. Southwest and American said on Sunday they remained fully confident in the aircraft and were closely monitoring the investigation. Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton cautioned against drawing comparisons between the two crashes, especially before the black box recorders are recovered. Ethiopian has a strong reputation and good safety record, he said in a blog post. Still, the crash puts fresh pressure on Boeing just days before it had planned an event to debut another aircraft. Late Sunday, Boeing said it would postpone the planned ceremonial debut of its 777x widebody aircraft that had been set for Wednesday in Seattle and was to be livestreamed. The company said it is focused on “supporting” Ethiopian Airlines and “will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.”
INVESTIGATION AND LITIGATION
Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing faced criticism from some U.S. pilot unions for not having detailed in its flight manual a change in the way that software on the MAX reacts in a stall compared with a previous version. Boeing has insisted that cockpit procedures were already in place to deal with problems that the Lion Air jet experienced. A preliminary report into the Lion Air crash focused on airline maintenance and training, as well as the technical response of the anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but did not give a reason for the crash. Since then, the cockpit voice recorder was recovered and a final report is due later this year. Boeing was expected to introduce a software patch to help address the scenario faced by the Lion Air crew in late March or April, government and industry officials told Reuters in recent weeks. Boeing is already facing a string of lawsuits in the United States by families of the Lion Air crash victims, including five cases in U.S. federal court in Illinois where Boeing has its Chicago headquarters. The 737 MAX 8 uses LEAP-1B engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co and Safran SA.



U.S. joins other nations in grounding 737 MAX jets after second crash
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethi ... SKBN1QU15W
Category: Aircraft
Published: March 13, 2019

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday grounded Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jets, citing new satellite data and evidence from the scene of Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people, the second disaster involving the 737 in less than five months. It was the second time the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has halted flights of a Boeing plane in six years. It had grounded the 787 Dreamliner in 2013 because of problems with smoking batteries. Shares of the world’s biggest plane maker, which were up earlier in the session, fell 2 percent to $370.48. The shares have fallen about 13 percent since Sunday’s crash, losing about $32 billion of market value. Shares of Southwest Airlines Co, which has the largest fleet of 737 MAX aircraft, fell 0.4 percent. “The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today,” the FAA said in a statement, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the planes would be grounded. “This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.” The grounding will remain in effect as the FAA investigates. Boeing, which maintained that its planes were safe to fly, said it supported the move to temporarily ground 737 MAX flights. The United States joins Europe, China and other countries in grounding Boeing’s newest plane since the Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa. The still-unexplained crash followed another involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people. Although there is no proof of any link, the twin disasters have spooked passengers. The grounding was welcomed by air workers in the United States. “He (Trump) did the right thing by grounding this fleet, both for air travelers and aviation workers,” John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union of America, which represent aviation workers and flight attendants, told Reuters shortly after the announcement. “Our members are excited, and are no longer concerned about stepping into a workplace which could lead to the end of their lives, potentially.”
NEW SATELLITE DATA
Canada also grounded 737 MAX jets on Wednesday, saying satellite data suggested similarities to the previous crash involving the same plane model in October.

boeing-737.jpg

U.S.-based aircraft-tracking firm Aireon provided the satellite data to the FAA, Transport Canada and several other authorities, company spokeswoman Jessie Hillenbrand said. Aireon’s space-based system can monitor data from aircraft equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders. The data is considered less detailed than that in black boxes, which look at systems running inside the plane. Earlier on Wednesday, Germany’s federal agency responsible for investigating air accidents said it would not analyze the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines plane, casting uncertainty over the process of finding out what may have caused the disaster. The U.S. FAA said the black boxes were headed to France later on Wednesday. Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw said it was still unclear what happened on Sunday, but its pilot had reported control issues as opposed to external factors such as birds. “The pilot reported flight control problems and requested to turn back. In fact he was allowed to turn back,” he said.



Ethiopia and Indonesia crash parallels heap pressure on Boeing
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethi ... SKCN1QZ1EE
Category: Aircraft
Published: March 18, 2019

Description: ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) - Investigators into the Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia have found striking similarities in a vital flight angle with an airplane that came down off Indonesia, a source said, piling pressure on the world’s biggest planemaker. The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, led to the grounding of Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet globally and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the aviation industry. Analysis of the cockpit recorder showed its “angle of attack” data was “very, very similar” to that of the Lion Air jet that went down off Jakarta in October, killing 189 people, a person familiar with the investigation said. The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall. “If that’s the case, that does raise the possibility that there is a similar occurrence between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” said Clint Balog, a Montana-based professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Even then, it was too early to draw firm conclusions, he added. A flight deck computer’s response to an apparently faulty angle-of-attack sensor is at the heart of the ongoing probe into the Lion Air crash. Ethiopia’s Transport Ministry, France’s BEA air accident authority and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have all pointed to similarities between the two disasters, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage. “Everything will be investigated,” Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Musie Yehyies told Reuters. Both planes were 737 MAX 8s and crashed minutes after takeoff with pilots reporting flight control problems. Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the 737 MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling, while Boeing has raised questions in the Lion Air case about whether crew used the correct procedures. Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.
BOEING PLANS NEW SOFTWARE
With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has said the MAX series is safe, although it plans to roll out new software upgrades in days. The fix was developed in the aftermath of the Indonesia crash when regulators suggested false sensor data could cause a system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) to overreact and make the jet hard to control. Canada is re-examining the validation it gave Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, following reports of a U.S. probe into the aircraft’s certification by the FAA, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday. Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said on Wednesday in a call with reporters that he was “absolutely” confident in the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Canada’s action. The FAA finds itself in the hot seat, especially over its decision to certify the 737 MAX without demanding additional training. FAA and Boeing will face congressional questions about why the software upgrade took so long to complete and whether Boeing had too great a role in the certification process. Boeing has halted deliveries of its best-selling model that was intended to be the industry standard but is now under a shadow. Developed in response to the successful launch of the Airbus A320neo, some 370 MAX jets were in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order. After a 10 percent drop last week that wiped nearly $25 billion off its market share, Boeing stock slid about 1.8 percent on Monday. Weekend media reports intensified pressure on Boeing and its domestic U.S. regulator following a call last week by a U.S. flight attendants union for a “certification review.” The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of the MCAS system had crucial flaws, including understating power. The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development. Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that. Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.
FUTURE ORDERS AT STAKE
Ethiopia is leading the probe, although the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating. Investigators were expected to select a handful of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data in their initial review, including those thrown up by the Lion Air investigation, before analyzing the rest in coming weeks and months. Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are reconsidering orders. Boeing’s main rival, Airbus, has seen its stock rise 5 percent since the crash, but cannot simply pick up the slack given the complicated logistics of plane-building. For now, Boeing continues to build planes while keeping them parked. Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing around 15 percent maintenance and fuel savings. WestJet Airlines Ltd on Monday became the second Canadian carrier to suspend its 2019 financial projections, following Air Canada in light of the 737 MAX groundings. Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg sought on Sunday to allay some fears, saying the company was finishing a software update and pilot training revision “that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs.”
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