An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight that crashed early last month after taking off from Addis Ababa caused worldwide panic after the same type of aircraft, operated by Lion Air, had crashed just months before killing all 189 people on board.
Within days of the accident, airline companies across the world had grounded their Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircrafts, including South Africa’s Comair which operates both Kulula and British Airways.
After weeks of investigations it’s thought that a faulty anti-stalling system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), could have been the cause of the disaster. The aircraft was just four months old.
MAX trim control possible cause of crash
The same flight-control feature is suspected in the crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia last October, according to the BBC.
Without a full report on the two accidents, causes are merely speculation, but it is strongly believed that in both instances, the crew weren’t sufficiently trained on MCAS. An instrument failure could potentially put an aircraft into a deep dive – which would require specific training to recognise what is happening and have the technical knowledge to correct it.
South Africa added to list of countries grounding flights
Comair ordered eight of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with delivery taking place of one of the aircrafts just a month before the fatal Ethiopian airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board.
“Comair has decided to remove its 737 MAX from its flight schedule, although neither regulatory authorities nor the manufacturer has required it to do so,” said Wrenelle Stander, executive director of Comair’s airline division.
“While Comair has done extensive preparatory work prior to the introduction of the first 737 MAX into its fleet and remains confident in the inherent safety of the aircraft, it has decided temporarily not to schedule the aircraft while it consults with other operators, Boeing, and technical experts.”
“The safety and confidence of our customers and crew is always our priority.”
“It is well-established around the world, particularly in the fleets of large carriers in the United States. There are currently over 370 Boeing 737 MAX in operation, with 47 airlines. The type operates approximately 1,500 flights a day and has accumulated over 250,000 flights in total with an excellent record of daily reliability.”
Boeing wary of speculating
Boeing are still conducting investigations and did not want to speculate on the cause of the disaster or the safely of the planes. Boeing has stood by the aircraft, a revamped version of its workhorse single-aisle jet. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” Boeing president, chairman and chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg said in a message.
“There are still many facts to learn and work to be done,” he said. “Speculating about the cause of the accident or discussing it without all the necessary facts is not appropriate and could compromise the integrity of the investigation.”
Several countries have not only grounded the MAX 8 aircraft, but also the MAX 9 types. Boeing is challenged with proving that the planes are safe to fly amid the talk of the planes having faulty software and insufficient training which contributed to two fatal crashes of the aircraft within just five months of each other.
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