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Boeing faces crisis of confidence after two crashes within five months

Boeing Faces Historical Backlash After Double Crash

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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.

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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

In Indonesia, a Lion Air Boeing Max 8 plane crashed last October over the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

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.

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.

The President of the United States, where Boeing headquarters are located, gave a press conference. He said that “Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern,” Trump said from Washington.

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.

The black boxes should arrive in France on Thursday, March 14th.
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In an unprecedented domino effect, 50 countries have decided to ground their Max aircrafts, such as Singapore. To date, almost 400 Max have been sold by Boeing to dozens of countries.

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.

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.

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. 

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.