- Boeing didn’t tell FAA, airlines that cockpit alert wasn’t working
- Pilots and experts have slammed Boeing
- Two fatal crashes saw 346 victims
- The planes have been grounded since the second crash in March, in Ethiopia.
October 29 2018. A 737 MAX airplane being flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed minutes after taking off on near Jakarta, resulting in the deaths of all 189 passengers and crew.
March 10 2019. Another 737 MAX airplane, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in Ethiopia, minutes into the flight, killing the 159 people on board.
Pilots and aviation experts have made alarming claims about the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes that were involved in two devastating crashes in the last six months.
Investigations are normally carried out after such accidents to find out the causes of the accident. These help to take remedial actions to avoid a re-occurrence. These causes are generally classified under ‘technical’ and ‘human factor’ categories. The human factor underlines a common human error, or a mistake committed by either the crew on board or the team responsible for the plane’s maintenance on the ground.
In the cases cited above, the world has come to know about one more frightening aspect of Human Factor. It is none other than ‘greed‘. This certainly can not be clubbed as a ‘mistake’. Hereinafter, the aviation sector will have to be much more watchful about this.
A few facts during the investigation have emerged:
-The Boeing Co knew months before the crash that a cockpit alert wasn’t working the way the company had told the buyers buyers of the 737 MAX.
-But Boeing shared its findings neither with the airlines nor with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until after a Lion Air plane crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, as per a Boeing statement on Sunday. It gave more details of an issue that first came to be known last week.
The accidents took place after erroneous readings by a single angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor triggered software that pushed the jet’s nose down so much that the pilots lost control.
Boeing’s latest revelations raise new doubts about the 737 Max’s development and testing, the company’s lack of transparency, and above all the company’s credibility.
The alert was supposed to flash when two angle-of-attack vanes sent contradicting data about the relation of the plane’s nose to the incident air flow. Boeing had told airlines and pilots that the so-called AOA disagree warning was standard across the Max fleet, as on a previous generation of 737 jets.
The software delivered to Boeing linked the signal with a second cockpit gauge that displayed the readings from the two vanes. This software was made available for a fee. A buyer may or may not have opted for this choice. Consequently, the AOA disagree light, which warned pilots when something goes wrong with the sensors, functioned only for airlines that purchased the planes with this feature- the optional indicator.
FAA’s disclosures. Prior to the incidents, the FAA’s Corrective Action Review Board had deemed the inactive alert to be of “low risk”. After the accidents, FAA clarified later, “However, Boeing’s timely or earlier communication with the operators would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion.”
Boeing engineers discovered the discrepancy “within several months” of the initial Max deliveries in May 2017, the company said. The disclosures followed criticism from airlines and crash victims’ relatives that Boeing hasn’t been forthcoming about issues with the 737 Max.