The historical airplane manufacturer Boeing has been undergoing the biggest crisis it had ever lived since it was established in 1916.
With two plane crashes in less than two months on the same plane model, the manufacturer confirmed a software failure that has caused the death of hundred of civilian passengers.
While the new plane model, 737 MAX jetliners have been grounded in Europe and in Asia, Boeing shares have been crashing and experts predict a grim future for the company.
In the meantime, Boeing said it would upgrade its software to guarantee a flawless safety on its new 737 MAX planes, while
Similarities between the two crashes
Last Sunday a flight between Addis Ababa and Nairobi also went down, in the same circumstances, with the same plane: a Boeing 737 Max. All 157 people on board died.
The FAA identified similarities between the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, leading the agency to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes https://t.co/DSO1XD6xVT pic.twitter.com/vtxxJv7gfj
— CNN (@CNN) March 14, 2019
In its emergency report published on Wednesday, March 13th, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed similarities between the two flights. It also added that “warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause that needs to be better understood and addressed”.
As a safety measure, the White House ordered all 737 MAX to stay on the ground on the American soil.
President Trump on grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft: "The United States has the greatest record in the world in aviation and we want to keep it that way, so I didn't want to take any chances." https://t.co/2EP70AuubF pic.twitter.com/RrVrkIp6vj
— The Hill (@thehill) March 14, 2019
The investigation has started
MH 370, MH 17… As it is often the case nowadays, plane crashes involve many countries. The Ethiopian Airlines flight counted many skilled workers of the United Nations: French, Italian, American and even Israeli employees.
The American government has announced that the grounding will remain on the ground indefinitely, while the black boxes from the Ethiopian Airlines gliths are currently being sent to Paris. There, a group of experts working for the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) will analyse its content.
Software flaw might be the cause
But what seems a technical failure might, be a computational mistake. As the FAA report showed, it seems that the pilots did not know how to manipulate the new software installed on the brand new Boeing.
What seemed to infuriate the public eye, is that the FAA already alerted Boeing after the Lion Air crash, where experts settled that the cause of the disaster was a failure in the software system.
The vertical speed of the two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets that crashed fluctuated at similar 15 to 20 second intervals. Experts said this pattern suggested that a newly installed automated system could have contributed to the crash.https://t.co/46AQBjReqH
— NYT Graphics (@nytgraphics) March 14, 2019
In short, the FAA analyzed the MAX’s Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, also called MCAS.
This system was a new feature on the software, only added for this specific model of plane, after Boeing engineered discovered during flight testing that “the 737 MAX engine placement—higher and farther out on the wing than on the previous generation—could pitch the plane upward in certain conditions, increasing the likelihood of a stall.”, according to Wired.
In other words, a new asset was added to a software pilots are trained hundred hours on. But it seems that pilots were not aware of the new feature. So, when the MCAS started working while it should not have, it made the planes nosedive and the pilots, untrained, did not know how to react.
How did the 737 Max get approved?
After many reports showed that the Indonesian authorities did not investigate further on what happened last October, hundreds of victims families started wondering how Boeing did get the authorization for these new aircrafts to fly.
NEW: The chairman of the House transportation committee says he will investigate how the FAA certified the 737 Max and is willing to use subpoena power https://t.co/S2MNrqVvXF
— Thomas Kaplan (@thomaskaplan) March 14, 2019
On Thursday, the New York Times promised to make ground-breaking revelations after receiving new satellite data.
To put it in a nutshell, it seems that the FAA gave the authorization to Boeing on march 8th, 2017. The new aircraft, presented to the board back in 2011, was supposed to burn less fuel than other planes, which was its strongest selling point.
However, concerned were already raised during the flight testings. In April 2017, the company CMF International alerted Boeing that the discs of the turbine were undergoing very low pressure. In response, the American manufacturer suspended the tests for eight days, but resumed them after that.
According to experts, this double tragedy will be a crucial point for a conversation on aircraft technology and regulation in the United States.