16 April 2019

Africa: Boeing May Have Killed People - but Here's Why It Won't Be Going Down

opinion

In two crashes in the six months since 29 October 2019, 346 people have lost their lives in Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. If anyone is still waiting for real corporate accountability, honesty and transparency in response to this sort of carnage, they will wait in vain.

An Ethiopian Air flight went down on 10 March. The first time the Boeing CEO was willing to admit that the plane's flight control system was a factor in the crash was three weeks later, when a preliminary report was released.

In the report on 4 April, investigators did not determine the cause of the crash, but suggested that the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), played a role. The MCAS had been implicated in an investigation into a Lion Air crash in Indonesia on 29 October 2018 and Boeing was already working on a fix.

MCAS is software that reacts to sensors on the nose when a plane is climbing at too steep an angle, and it pushes the nose down to avoid a stall. In both airplane crashes it seems a faulty sensor caused the system to repeatedly push the nose down and, eventually, the pilots could not arrest the dive.

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