Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

US grounds Boeing 737 MAX as black boxes flown to France for analysis

  • Print


A Boeing 737 Max 8 flown by Southwest Airlines taxis to the gate at Baltimore Washington International Airport near Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday.



The ban on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft became worldwide after US President Donald Trump joined Canada and other countries in grounding the aircraft, and the black box flight recorders from the doomed plane were flown to France for analysis Thursday.
US authorities said that new evidence showed similarities between Sunday's deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and a fatal accident in Indonesia in October. The weekend crash killed all 157 people aboard. The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that findings from the crash site near Addis Ababa and "newly refined satellite data" warranted "further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents." An FAA emergency order grounded 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft until further notice.
Trump told reporters at the White House the "safety of the American people and all peoples is our paramount concern."
Mexico late Wednesday suspended MAX 8 and 9 operations, after Canada and Chile also joined the long list of countries to ban the plane from flying in their airspaces. Many airlines have voluntarily taken it out of service. Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia followed suit.
FAA acting chief Daniel Elwell said the agency has been "working tirelessly" to find the cause of the accident but faced delays because the black box flight data recorders had been damaged.
The new information shows "the track of that airplane was close enough to the track of the Lion Air flight... to warrant the grounding of the airplanes so we could get more information from the black boxes and determine if there's a link between the two, and if there is, find a fix to that link," Elwell said on CNBC.
Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg said he supported the US decision "out of an abundance of caution" but continued to have "full confidence" in the safety of the plane.
The company continues its efforts "to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again," Muilenburg said in a statement. Ethiopian Airlines said Thursday that the black box flight recorders from the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed have been flown to Paris for analysis. The accounts of the recent crashes were echoed in concerns registered by US pilots on how the MAX 8 behaves.
At least four American pilots made reports following the Lion Air crash, all complaining the aircraft suddenly pitched downward shortly after takeoff, according to documents reviewed by AFP on the Aviation Safety Reporting System, a voluntary incident database maintained by NASA.
In two anonymous reports on flights just after the Lion Air crash, pilots disconnected the autopilot and corrected the plane's trajectory.
One said the flight crew reviewed the incident "at length... but can't think of any reason the aircraft would pitch nose-down so aggressively."
It was unclear if US transportation authorities review the database or investigate the incidents. However, the FAA said this week it had mandated that Boeing update its flight software and training on the aircraft.
Questions about the Lion Air crash have honed in on an automated stall prevention system, the MCAS, designed to automatically point the nose of the plane downward if it is in danger of stalling.
According to the flight data recorder, the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the MCAS repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down following takeoff.
The Ethiopian Airlines pilots reported similar difficulties before their aircraft plunged into the ground as they tried to return to the airport.
Boeing was criticized after the Lion Air crash for allegedly failing to adequately inform 737 pilots about the functioning of the stall prevention system.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam on Sunday said the captain on the flight, Yared Mulugeta Getachew, 29, was an experienced aviator with more than 8,000 flight hours.
Andrew Hunter, a defense industry expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that, while Boeing and the FAA had good track records on addressing safety concerns, sometimes the combination of automated systems and humans did not work smoothly.
"It is hard to get a system to work seamlessly with human beings," he told AFP.
"The fact the system was fighting the pilot was not an unintended consequence," because it should counteract a pilot error and correcting this is "challenging."

More News For this Category

May tries to save Brexit plan ahead of EU summit

May tries to save Brexit plan ahead of EU summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May will write to EU President Donald Tusk with a plan for delaying Brexit beyond March 29, her spokesman said Tuesday, admitting the parliamentary deadlock had

Trump reaffirms US considering 'all options' to bring down Venezuela's President Maduro

Trump reaffirms US considering 'all options' to bring down Venezuela's President Maduro

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed that "all options" are being considered in his drive to bring down Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro."All options are on the table," he

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

AFP, Oslo : Women took another step forward in the still male-dominated world of science Tuesday, as American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial

"Democracy in UK all but dead": Trump Jr slams PM May over Brexit

US President Donald Trump's eldest son rebuked UK Prime Minister Theresa May over her faltering Brexit tactics Tuesday, claiming she had unnecessarily prolonged Britain's EU withdrawal by ignoring his father's

Allahu Akbar were Lion Air co-pilot's last words before crash: Report

Allahu Akbar were Lion Air co-pilot's last words before crash: Report

Reuters, Jakarta/Singapore :The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of

News In Brief

Nawaz Sharif's bail plea postponed till March 26PTI, Islamabad Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday postponed the verdict of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif"s application seeking bail on medical grounds

New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

AFP, Christchurch :New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing

UN experts urge Israel to rein in security forces

UN experts urge Israel to rein in security forces

Reuters, Geneva : U.N. war crimes investigators called on Israel on Monday to stop its snipers using lethal force against protesters on the border with Gaza, as the anniversary approached of

US-backed forces take control of IS Syria encampment

US-backed forces take control of IS Syria encampment

AP, Syria :U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group announced Tuesday they have taken control over an encampment in an eastern Syrian village where IS militants have been besieged

Brazilian physicist wins $1.4 million Templeton Prize

Brazilian physicist wins $1.4 million Templeton Prize

Reuters, New Hampshire :Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser has been awarded the 2019 Templeton Prize, worth $1.4 million, for his work blending science and spirituality.Gleiser, 60, is the first