Member Advisory: Boeing 737 Max 8

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Global Rescue, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Global Rescue

    Global Rescue SPONSOR Since 2012 AH Fanatic

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    Boeing_737-8_MAX_N8704Q_rotated.jpg


    Background

    On 10 March, 157 passengers and crew were killed when a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff. Flight ET 302 departed from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ABB) in Ethiopia at 08:38 local time en route to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Kenya. The pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to ABB, but the plane reportedly crashed six minutes after takeoff at 08:44 near Bishoftu. The victims of the crash represent 35 nationalities and include many aid workers and United Nations (UN) staff.

    Authorities have yet to confirm the cause of the crash. Visibility was reportedly clear, but the plane showed “unstable vertical speed” after takeoff, according to data from FlightRadar24. The airline confirmed that the plane was new, having flown only 1,200 hours since it was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November. The pilot had reportedly been employed at the airline since 2010 and was considered an experienced flier with 8,000 flight hours.


    Similarities to October 2018 Lion Air crash in Indonesia

    In the aftermath of the Flight ET 302 accident, comparisons have been made to another crash on 29 October 2018, in which 189 passengers and crew were killed when a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea approximately 13 minutes after takeoff. Flight JT 610 departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) in Jakarta, Indonesia at 06:20 local time en route to Depati Amir Airport (PGK) in Pangkal Pinang. The pilot reportedly asked for clearance to return to CGK, but air traffic control lost contact with the plane at 06:33. Witnesses to the accident said that the plane crashed with high impact at a steep, nose-down angle.

    The Boeing 737 MAX 8 involved in the Flight JT 610 crash had previously flown 800 hours, having been delivered new to Lion Air in August 2018. Between 26-29 October, six problems were reportedly identified on the plane, including errors with displays that showed airspeed and attitude information and issues with the plane’s angle-of-attack sensor. During the flight before Flight JT 610, the crew had reportedly issued a “Pan Pan” urgency signal—indicating an emergency one level below “Mayday”—due to instrument failure. Lion Air, which is a regional budget carrier, also has a troubled record with proper airplane maintenance and safety.

    A preliminary investigation of Flight JT 610 revealed that the co-pilot indicated to air traffic control that there was a “flight control problem” shortly after takeoff. The plane’s automatic anti-stalling system repeatedly forced the nose of the plane downward, which the crew manually corrected by steering the plane upward. The crew indicated to air traffic control that the aircraft’s instruments were displaying different altitudes, and the plane lost contact shortly after. Following the accident, Boeing received significant criticism for allegedly failing to disclose to pilots that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 was programmed with an anti-stalling system, which was designed to offset the risk that the size and placement of the aircraft’s engines could lead the plane to stall under specific conditions. The software is coded to automatically push the nose of the plane downward if sensors indicate that the angle of ascent is steep enough to stall the plane. In the case of Flight JT 610, the preliminary investigation suggests that this system activated after faulty sensors indicated incorrect data about the plane’s ascent. In the wake of the crash, a memo from Boeing indicated that the system may kick in even if pilots are flying manually and it can push the nose of the plane downward such that pilots cannot steer it back up. Pilots were not briefed on the anti-stalling system and it was not included in flight manuals, reportedly because Boeing did not envision a scenario in which the automatic system would take over and because the company wanted to minimize the costs of retraining pilots on the new system. The anti-stalling system is also reportedly installed on Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

    The Flight ET 302 and Flight JT 610 crashes both involved relatively new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff. In both cases, flight data indicates that pilots struggled to maintain a steady ascent and weather doesn’t appear to have played a role in either crash. However, the results of a preliminary investigation into Flight ET 302 are not expected for several weeks and authorities have not confirmed any possible causes of the accident.


    Subsequent Safety Measures

    According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S., there are approximately 387 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in operation worldwide, including 74 in the U.S. In a statement released on 11 March, the FAA noted that they have not yet “been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions” following the crash, but acknowledged that external reporting has drawn similarities between the two crashes. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) declared on 12 March that it will ban Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft from the European Union’s airspace. Boeing announced on 12 March that it has full confidence in the safety of its aircraft, and the manufacturer does not plan to issue any new guidance to operators.

    However, as of 11:30 Eastern Time (ET) on 12 March, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands, Austria, Oman, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, India, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Morocco have either grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft or banned them from their airspace in the wake of the crash. Further, Vietnam’s civil aviation authority said it will not grant licenses to Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the country. Although no Vietnamese airlines currently use the aircraft, VietJet placed an order for 20 of the aircraft in February 2019.

    At least 27 airlines around the world have reportedly grounded or otherwise restricted Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. These airlines include Aeroméxico, Aerolíneas Argentinas, GOL Airlines of Brazil, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc of Morocco, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Shanghai Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Lion Air, Shandong Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Lucky Air, Cayman Airways, Fuzhou Airlines, Kumming Airlines, Okay Airways, Eastar Jet, 9 Air, Comair, Garuda Indonesia, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Silk Air, Shenzhen Airlines, and Oman Air. Reports indicate that TUI Fly and Fiji Airways have partially grounded their fleets.

    Several carriers have confirmed that their Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft will not be grounded, including American Airlines, Flydubai, Iceland Air, Southwest Airlines, and WestJet. Southwest Airlines has the most Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet with 34, followed by American Airlines and Air Canada with 24 each. In the U.S., the FAA has said it is “closely monitoring developments” in the ET 302 crash and is planning to assist with the investigation, but has issued no other guidance with respect to any additional measures or actions it may take. Civil aviation authorities are continuing to review the situation, and the restrictions on the aircraft are subject to change.



    Our operations team is standing by 24/7/365 to provide travel assistance and advisory services to our members. For advisory services and assistance with any issues Global Rescue members encounter, please contact Global Rescue at +1.617.459.4200 or email member services.
     

  2. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Well they are grounded now!
     
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  3. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Computers never cease to disgust me.
    My prayers go out for the families and loved ones of those who perished.
     
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  4. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    This is the most informative article I have read about the tragedy. Thanks for posting.
     
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  5. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    There are pilots and there are aircraft operators. The old guys that came up the hard way, flying checks at night in all weather conditions in 310s are retiring and a new crop of 1500 hours of instruction time pilots are taking their jobs. All well and good until the shit hits the fan.
     

  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Seems to be a pattern with Boeing.

    In 2013 the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered a review into the design and manufacture of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, following five incidents in five days involving the aircraft, mostly involved with problems with the batteries and electrical systems. This was followed with a full grounding of the entire Boeing 787 fleet,...
     

  7. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Airbus had a few hiccups along the line too, actually almost the complete line! IMHO, Boeing's resistance to the grounding will cost them more than what their bean counters originally calculated.
     
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  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I hear the Titanic had a few issues.
     

  9. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'd like to ask Boeing ONE question. How many of those writing the code are 737 MAX pilots?
     
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  10. Timbo

    Timbo AH Fanatic

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    Reserchers stated the swimming pool's ok - it's still full of water!!
     

  11. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    It does make you wonder how many pilots are actually involved in the design process.

    Last weeks tech annoyance:
    The ringer on my smart phone quit working the other day. I do my assessment. Speakers are fine but no ring tones on phone calls.
    After multiple missed calls, off to the Apple store I go. Diagnostics run and it is determined there is nothing physically wrong. This leads to the ultimate fix from the "experts" in the Apple store; "It must be software." and the shoulder shrug.
    "We have a record of the issue on file."
    Rx: Turn it off and on, reboot, reset, etc., etc.

    Running out computer software before it is properly designed (finished) is now the norm. Send out the program and then create updates. All well and good with a laptop.....
     

  12. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Pretty sure none - anywhere in the industry. A software engineer writing code isn't exactly like packing parachutes. Every new design of everything goes through developmental iterations before it is perfected. In ragged edge technology like aircraft, it was usually the physical design that had a flaw - The British De Havilland Comet and its pressurization issues was an early example. Those physical design and engineering issues have largely been overcome - think how dependable current engines are - thanks to computer design technology. Code is still something of a maturing technology. And Brickburn is right, too many software engineers are trained in an "update" based system - but I am not so sure that is much different than the trial and error physical design world of the last century.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019

  13. Brent in Az

    Brent in Az SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The Boeing 737 has had the most incidents of any commercial aircraft.
     

  14. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Elite

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    To be expected, more 737 aircraft
     
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  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    At least the inventors during the "trial and error" period had some of their skin in the game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
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  16. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Don't mean to sound like a shill for Boeing - I competed fiercely against them when in the industry and don't particularly like their business model. But in fairness, there are 10,400 + 737's of all variants in service and flying since the late sixties - really skews the statistics - particularly gross numbers. Overall safety rate of all models is 0.28 (fatal events per million miles) which is better than most of the Airbus models. For instance, the roughly comparable Airbus 300 has a safety rating of 0.47 . And the 737 is flown by lots of Third World airlines with questionable maintenance standards. http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/rate_mod.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019

  17. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    What plane is the "toyota Land Cruiser" of the sky? I will take that one, thanks.
     

  18. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Probably the 737 - just saying. ;) 192+ million miles flown far exceeds anything else in the industry. And one of the best safety records per miles flown.
     
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  19. Brent in Az

    Brent in Az SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I don't think the safety record of Boeing 737's were on the minds of the passengers, as they were plunging towards their deaths.

    All it takes, is being on the wrong Plane, at the wrong time.
     

  20. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Of course - and I am not sure what your point is. I was merely trying to offer context to your "most incidents" comment. I would suggest trying to plan travel around particular aircraft types is somewhat difficult and not very productive. As you say, the wrong plane, train or automobile at the wrong time is the real deciding factor.
     
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