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Industry What we know about the 737 MAX 8 crashes

Two crashes of Boeing´s latest product, the 737 MAX 8, have claimed over 350 deaths. But what are the reasons behind the accidents? And what consequences does Boeing have to face?

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On Monday, October 29th, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 takes off from Jakarta, Indonesia. Only twelve minutes later, the aircraft crashes into the Java Sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. Only five months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes six minutes after take-off. Both crashed aircraft were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, the newest state-of-the-art aircraft from manufacturer Boeing.

After the second crash, countries around the world have advised airlines to ground their 737 MAX 8 aircraft to prevent further crashes. Investigators have researched what went wrong and what the two crashes had in common.

Both crashed aircraft had troubles after take-off, with pilots from both flights reporting control issues. ATC staff has also observed up and down flight patterns after take-off. Most likely, the so-called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) could be a reason for the write-offs. The system automatically pulls down the aircraft´s nose when the installed sensors detect a stall. But when these sensors are not working properly, the MCAS sends the plane repeatedly into a dive.

Reports claim that Boeing did not inform operators or pilots about how this system works. Moreover, a cockpit warning light for a mechanical error is an optional add-on. Most likely, either Lion Air nor Ethiopian Airlines had this add-on installed. Boeing received heavy criticism for essential safety features being add-ons. The manufacturer has already backtracked and will provide the warning light as a standard feature in the future.

Also, the FAA certification of the 737 MAX 8 has come under the spotlight of investigators. After Airbus launched its popular A320neo (new engine option) Family, Boeing had to react. Now, several documents and reports suggest, that the MAX 8 was fast-track certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some certification tasks have reportedly been ticked-off by Boeing employees, bringing the manufacturer in big trouble. The FBI and other agencies are currently investigating this suspicion.

Boeing stated that the company is developing software solutions for the MCAS system at the moment. Moreover, the company is likely to perform a revision on the pilot training program. Aviation media wrote that 737NG pilots only needed one hour of iPad simulation to be certified for the 737 MAX.

The grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft could be a serious problem for Boeing. After the battery problems with the 787 Dreamliner, the U.S.-American manufacturer is now experiencing further image damage. Moreover, as the 737 MAX Family is the bestseller for Boeing with over 5000 orders, the grounding could cost Boeing up to US$ 5 billion.

Source © Avipeo.com

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