US Congress blames Boeing and FAA for 737 Max plane crashes | Other matters

After almost 18 months of investigation, the United States Congress released, on Wednesday (16), the results: Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, in the acronym in English) were considered responsible for the accidents with the aircraft 737 Max operating Lion Air’s JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines’ ET302.

Boeing 737 Max 8

The first accident (JT610) happened near Indonesia on October 29, 2018 and resulted in the death of 189 people. The second plane crashed in the Ethiopia region on March 10, 2019 and killed 157 people. 346 lives were lost in two tragedies involved in similar circumstances.

Both accidents involve the same airplane model (Boeing 737 Max 8), occurred minutes after takeoff and occurred on relatively close dates. These factors caused flights with Boeing 737 Max aircraft to be suspended worldwide from March 2019.

Since then, Boeing has been making systemic and operational modifications to the aircraft to obtain authorization to resume flights with the 737 Max line. At the same time, Democratic congressmen from the United States have been working to identify those responsible for the tragedies.

The conclusion is that the accidents “were not the result of an isolated failure, technical error or poorly managed event”, but resulted from “a series of mistaken technical assumptions by Boeing engineers, lack of transparency on the part of the company’s management and grossly insufficient FAA supervision, ”says the report.

Ethiopian Airlines plane crash (photo: Tika Negeri / Reuters)

Ethiopian Airlines plane crash (photo: Tika Negeri / Reuters)

Among the mistaken assumptions pointed out in the document are aspects related to critical aircraft systems, such as MCAS, software whose main function is to prevent the plane from stalling (losing support).

Congressmen involved in the investigation point out that Boeing acted incorrectly by not documenting the MCAS so that pilots knew how to deal with this system and by not classifying it as safety-critical, which would have led the FAA to not apply a more thorough assessment. accuracy of this software in aircraft certification.

This negligent stance, so to speak, made Boeing hide from regulators that internal tests already demonstrated that if pilots took more than 10 seconds to recognize the undue activation of the MCAS, the consequences could be catastrophic, the investigation points out.

Another detail pointed out: the report states that the alert that would draw pilots’ attention to problems with stall prevention sensors was not working properly on most Boeing 737 Max planes.

In a nutshell, congressmen concluded that Boeing was unwise to “take shortcuts” to accelerate certification of the 737 Max line and thus continue to be able to fight rival Airbus, while the FAA also has a share of blame for not have performed validation procedures with the necessary rigor.

Lion Air's Boeing 737 Max 8 (photo: Bathara Sakti / Flickr)

Lion Air’s Boeing 737 Max 8 (photo: Bathara Sakti / Flickr)

In a statement, Boeing said it cooperated with the investigations and that “as a company, we learned many difficult lessons from the accidents of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, and from the mistakes we made.” “We made fundamental changes to our company and continue to look for ways to improve,” says another excerpt from the statement.

The FAA says that “it is committed to permanently improving aviation safety and looks forward to working with the committee. [do Congresso] to implement the improvements identified in the report ”.

With information: Ars Technica, Gizmodo.

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