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Boeing faces new questions after another 737 crash

Investigators rushed to the scene of a devastating plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday, an accident that could renew safety questions about the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737 airliner. Ethiopian Airlines and China have momentarily ground the Boeing 737-Max 8 pending investigations. 

The Boeing 737-Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.

In those circumstances, the accident is eerily similar to an October crash in which a 737-Max 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane.

Safety experts took note of the similarities but cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes. Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the similarities included both crews encountering a problem shortly after takeoff, and reports of large variations in vertical speed during ascent, “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem” with the Ethiopian jetliner.

But there are many possible explanations, Diehl said, including engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes. He said Ethiopian Airlines has a good reputation, but investigators will look into the plane’s maintenance, especially since that may have been an issue in the Lion Air investigation.

By contrast, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO “stated there were no defects prior to the flight, so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” he said.

Boeing representatives did not immediately respond for comment. The company tweeted that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew” on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.

The Chicago-based company said it would send a technical to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators. A spokesman for the NTSB said the U.S. agency was sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the Lion Air probe.

Indonesian investigators have not stated a cause for the Lion Air crash, but they are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered an automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome.

The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall. The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on four flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Days after the October 29 accident, Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Pilots at some airlines, however, including American and Southwest, protested that they were not fully informed about a new system that could automatically point the plane’s nose down based on sensor readings. Boeing chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane, and that Boeing did not withhold operating details from airlines and pilots.

Diehl, the former NTSB investigator, said the Ethiopian Airlines pilots should have been aware of that issue from press coverage of the Lion Air crash. The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max is the newest version of it, with more fuel-efficient engines. The Max is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes and has orders for more than 5,000. It is already in use by many airlines including American, United and Southwest.

The Lion Air incident does not seem to have harmed Boeing’s ability to sell the Max. Boeing’s stock fell nearly 7 per cent on the day of the Lion Air crash. Since then it has soared 26 per cent higher, compared with a 4 per cent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Comments

+3 #1 WADADA roger 2019-03-11 11:46
I hope the much anticipated Uganda airlines has not bought such similar planes, you know we are good at purchasing junk
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0 #2 Wainainchi 2019-03-11 12:17
I sincerely ask a simple question.What would happen to Boeing if it is concluded that this giant company is guilty of huge civil aviation catastrophies??

I would suggest that for safety reasons these planes are immediately grounded to prevent further loss of lives of innocent passangers.

So far no one has been sent to prison and it is high time that some people are locked in sprisons for a long time.Lost innocent souls have no price and is Boing profit more important than human flesh??
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0 #3 Twebaze Francis 2019-03-11 14:54
Very sorry for the deceased through this air tragedy.

May their souls rest in peace. I'm reserving my forgiveness, nevertheless, for the one that makes aeroplanes: he ought to enhance his safety measures in case an aeroplane develops incapacity to continue its journey while in mid-air.

Short of that an aeroplane remains an attractive death trap.
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+1 #4 kabayekka 2019-03-11 17:38
It is indeed a very worrying scenario for Uganda Airlines that had only 2 commercial planes and lost one in the same accident some 25 years ago.

Ethiopia has over 130 commercial planes to manage. If Uganda is trying to resume flying its small fleet of commercial airplanes(2), this business of national or international corruption must not come near such an expensive international venture.

Because IATA will be watching closely how Uganda Airline runs its national and international business without any favours whatsoever. You as a country cannot kill hundreds of people in one go in 6 minutes and think that you are going to get away scot free.
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0 #5 Omuzira Ente 2019-03-12 00:17
Is it a manufactures fault or negligence by the operating company?.

Air transport was hit by economic crisis and most airlines are operating at a loss i pity the Ugandans who are going into the venture ill prepared.

Maintenance of an airbus is so expensive to be managed by most companies operating at no or little profit especially here in Africa where there is no business thus very few passengers.

secondly the airbus company must invest in very highly skilled labour that are again highly paid and companies end up using very few pilots almost flying planes on a daily basis which is very dangerous to people/s lives as pilots need long resting hurs every time they fly a plan.

Lessons for Uganda are that having an aircraft alone is disaster itself without trained ,skilled and well paid airline staff.

The staff for Kenya airways are always on strike for pay which compromises the efficiency of the airline. Please Uganda don't buy the aircraft in 10days as you wish.
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0 #6 Wainainchi 2019-03-12 06:43
My gut feeling was justified. Smart Chinese grounded all its Max planes and returned to the old ones.

Some countries are still playing Russian roulette like Fiji to please Boeing and gambling with lives if its naive passangers.

Lets pray and hope those travelling still in these flying coffins will survive !!

Thumbs down for Boing company and bloody money they earning and doing nothing to make sure that those killer planes are grounded and either stop from being manufactured or overhauled and every time there should be one Boeing representative or staff member on board of these tricky and killer planes.

Then and only then they will learn hard lessons. Sending their teams to pick up remnants from the planes and patch them together and try to solve puzzles is not worth effort Boing should be brought to International Court if Justice and pay compensations to every killed innocent live to the families of tragically killed passangers.

They should give each family 5 million dollars.
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0 #7 Lakwena 2019-03-13 08:47
Quoting Wainainchi:
...
Thumbs down for Boing company and bloody money they earning and doing nothing to make sure that those killer planes are grounded and either stop from being manufactured ....

Then and only then they will learn hard lessons. Sending their teams to pick up remnants from the planes and patch them together and try to solve puzzles is not worth effort Boing should be brought to International Court if Justice and pay compensations to every killed innocent live to the families of tragically killed passangers.

They should give each family 5 million dollars.


Wainainchi, Chinese are not smart but industrial technological thieves. But why don't you come up with a Wainainchi smart plane.

In other words, after 33 years in power, I have not yet seen e.g., Mr. M7's office pin, over which he mocked and ridiculed his predecessors inability to produce one.
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