Britain and other nations ground Boeing 737 MAX jets despite FAA’s reassurances

Britain and other nations ground Boeing 737 MAX jets despite FAA’s reassurances

10:57am, 12th March, 2019
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet delivered to Ethiopian Airlines takes off in July 2018. (Boeing Photo) Update for 8:25 a.m. PT March 12: Britain and other nations grounded more Boeing 737 MAX jets today in the wake of , even though the Federal Aviation Administration insisted the model was airworthy. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority took the further step of banning 737 MAX jets from flying over British airspace until further notice. because “we do not currently have sufficient information” from the crashed plane’s flight data recorder. Airlines in more than a dozen countries have suspended 737 MAX operations, in light of the fact that the 737 MAX 8 has been involved in two fatal accidents in the past five months. Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa killed all 157 people aboard, while the crash of a Lion Air 737-8 in Indonesia killed 189. Both accidents occurred just minutes after takeoff, and involved a catastrophic nose dive. Preliminary results from the Lion Air investigation suggest that , and the Ethiopian pilots reportedly told flight controllers before the crash that But investigators say it’s too early to connect the two crashes. On Monday, the FAA saying that 737 MAX 8 jets remained airworthy, and no U.S. carriers have discontinued using the planes. But British aviation authorities said they would be guided by the European Aviation Safety Agency as well as industry regulators around the globe. Airlines in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea and other locales grounded the jets as well, either in response to regulatory orders or on their own. Sens. , D-Mass., and , R-Utah, joined California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in calling for suspension of U.S. flights. Boeing is cooperating with investigators in Ethiopia. , the company reviewed the safety measures that were put in place in the wake of last October’s crash and noted that “the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time.” Boeing shares slumped more than 6 percent in morning trading, after a 5 percent drop on Monday. Previously: The Federal Aviation Administration responded to concerns over Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by reassuring airlines that the planes were airworthy, despite the fact that the model was involved in two catastrophic fatal accidents in the past five months. , just minutes after the takeoff of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. In its the FAA acknowledged on Monday that many reports have pointed out similarities to the , in which 189 people dled. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the notification said. Airlines in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 MAX 8 jets, pending verification that the planes are safe. It’s not yet clear what effect the FAA’s confirmation of airworthiness will have on those suspensions in service. The FAA has dispatched experts to assist Ethiopian investigators on the ground, Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, GE Aviation, Boeing and Kenya’s civil aviation agency are on the case as well. “All data will be closely examined, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. focused on an automatic control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system is meant as a safeguard to keep the plane from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but there were some signs that the system on the Lion Air 737-8 was receiving spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor. Monday’s notification reviewed actions taken by the FAA to ensure that Boeing’s prescribed safety procedures were adequate. The FAA also noted that some actions are still in process. For instance, Boeing is working on design changes to the MCAS system that will result in less reliance on “procedures associated with required pilot memory items.” “The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by AD [airworthiness directive] no later than April 2019,” the agency said. Boeing will also update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the design changes for 737-8 and 737-9 models, The FAA said. touching upon the design changes and revisions in training procedures, as well as the recommended cockpit procedures for dealing with MCAS problems. “It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time,” Boeing said in the statement. The Ethiopian plane’s two “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from crash debris, but it’s not yet clear how much data can be retrieved. One witness that smoke was coming from the rear of the plane before it hit the ground. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the FAA to “until their safe use has been confirmed.” The FAA didn’t indicate it would take that step, but promised to take if it identifies an issue that affects safety. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed that view: “I want travelers to be assured that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments.” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, meanwhile, voiced confidence in the 737 MAX line, which is produced at the company’s factory in Renton, Wash. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” . “Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely.” He acknowledged that dealing with Sunday’s tragedy was “especially challenging” because it came so soon after the Lion Air crash. “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do,” Muilenburg wrote. CEO to employees: Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely. We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it. — Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 5:32 p.m. PT March 11.
China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

11:46am, 11th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Update for 9:27 a.m. PT March 11: Airlines in China and three other countries have suspended flights of their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets in light of Sunday’s catastrophic crash in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines reported today that both of the “black boxes” from the 737-8 that crashed — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — . However, as saying that one of the recorders was partially damaged. “We will see what we can retrieve from it,” the official told AP. Sunday’s crash killed all 157 people aboard the plane, including . Many of those workers were in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737-8 model in less than five months. The earlier crash. , China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it was issuing its suspension notice “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occurred in the takeoff phase.” The agency said it would consult with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and let Chinese airlines know when flights can be resumed. Separately, Ethiopian Airlines, which has four 737 MAX 8’s remaining after Sunday’s crash, said it would Indonesia for inspections. And Cayman Airlines said it was “until more information is received.” Boeing is participating in the Ethiopia crash investigation but said it had no new guidance for airplane operators: Breaking: In statement to CNN, Boeing says no new safety guidance planned for now on : “At this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.” — Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) The crash forced the at its factory in Everett, Wash. “Boeing is deeply saddened by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and our focus is on supporting our customer,” company spokesman Paul Bergman said in an email. “In light of this, we are postponing the 777X external debut on March 13 and the related media events. We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.” was down more than 7 percent in midday trading. Previously: Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed Sunday, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents during an early phase of flight is drawing attention from analysts. that the crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and GE. Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8 just minutes after takeoff. Soon afterward, the plane took a high-speed, catastrophic dive into the Java Sea. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in Sunday’s crash had its first flight and was added to Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet in . It was among, out of a ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue plus mechanical failure, human error, weather conditions and potential sabotage. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.” This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 12:47 p.m. PT March 10.