Boeing admits new MCAS software is behind two fatal crashes in less than five months
- Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged “a common link” between the two recent 737 Max crashes
- The message from Muilenburg carried an apology for the people who have lost their lives in the fatal accidents
- The company now acknowledges erroneous MCAS anti-stall software caused both disasters, after months of global speculation
- Boeing said it is working with the US aviation authorities to roll out a software which will ensure future safety of 737 MAX planes
Boeing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dennis Muilenburg finally apologized for the 346 lives lost in two crashes of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia as well as Ethiopia.
Boeing’s apologetic statement is arguably late. It decided to officially acknowledge the fault only after the Ethiopian government released the preliminary report of its investigation of the 10th March crash. It is almost incomprehensible to think that Boeing was unaware about the issue behind the crash.
Preliminary reports showed the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), activated due to erroneous information from the aircrafts sensors.
Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued the following statement regarding the Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges’s report today. https://t.co/HsjmOw5faA pic.twitter.com/vq1u0KUFRd
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) March 17, 2019
Boeing’s new software MCAS carries the blame
MCAS related handling issues emerged as the common link between both the crashes. The constant
overriding from the MCAS was a struggle for the pilots of both the flights in an already workload heavy environment.
Ethiopian Investigations have confirmed erroneous MCAS system was behind the crash just like the Lion Air crash on 2018 | Credits: Nationalpost.com
Two fatal accidents within a span of five months turned heads and fueled safety concerns across airlines. Governments around the world issued notices which banned 737 Max Jets from national airspace.
Can Boeing get away with an apology for gross negligence
Ethiopian Minister Dagmawit Moges said that investigation reports rejected pre-take-off maintenance errors or any foreign object collision in air. Moges stated that the crew performed all the procedures provided by the manufacturer ‘repeatedly’ but was unable to control the aircraft.
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) April 4, 2019
The Ethiopian investigations reiterating a similar tone to the Indonesian government’s findings left Boeing with no choice but to issue a public statement. Muilenburg said:
“As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it,”
Boeing wants to rescue the affair with a software update
Boeing said it was nearing completion and anticipated certification and implementation of the new software on the 737 MAX fleet worldwide in the weeks ahead.
As per Boeing, the new software update will let pilots have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the aircraft. It said this would ensure that the pilot always has the upper hand.
The update, and associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of the accidents – will prevent an MCAS-related accident happening ever again.
Boeing CEO Muilenberg is briefed by the technical team | Credits: hkcna.hk
There are multiple reports that pilots of 737 Max jets were complaining of the issue for months, demanding more material and training. Several pilots had anonymously reported that Boeing had provided no training around the newly added MCAS. One pilot also pronounced this as ‘criminal negligence’ on Boeing’s part in his anonymous complaint to the US aviation body FAA.
Genuine apology or damage control?
Muilenburg said full details on the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports very soon. Is this a calculated move by Boeing to accept its shortcoming before it is left red-faced by government reports?
Boeing remains confident in the fundamental security of the 737 MAX. It said that once MAX series aircrafts are back in operations after the software updates, they will be among the safest airplanes to ever fly.
Currently, there are over 400 737 MAX planes locked in hangars all around the world.
The world’s largest plane maker in crisis
Muilenberg mentioned Boeing will do everything possible to ‘earn and re-earn’ the trust and confidence from ‘its customers and the flying public’ in months ahead.
Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded across the globe after the second crash | Credits: Reddit
It also expressed regret on the loss to the airline industry because of the global grounding of the planes. With the MCAS issue now out in the open, Boeing Corporation plans to curb monthly 737 aircraft production by nearly 20 percent.
New deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft were frozen in the wake of the two fatal crashes. This might be a sign that aviation authorities around the world might not allow the plane back in airspace without certainty of flight safety. This could take a while.
U.S. and airline officials believe that the grounding could last two months, or even more.
A bigger row is raging on in the US
In US, critics are voicing concerns on the wider economic, political and regulatory structures of the country.
President Donald Trump however was full of support and advice for the American company with huge influence in the government.
What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!), but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.
No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
As per the Guardian, what contributed to killing 356 innocent people wasn’t just shortcomings of a new software. Rather it’s a bigger controversy which centers on America-first nationalism, indulgent free-market economics and political system working in tandem with corporate lobbying.
- Boeing initially decided to keep mum till the Ethiopian government’s investigation came to similar conclusions as the Indonesian investigation.
- With growing suspicion of overlooked safety issues, Boeing said that pilots filed complaints around the MCAS software
- Boeing has decided to cut down the production of 737 Max by 20% anticipating backlash from the industry
- In the US, a larger controversy is picking up steam with critics blaming the regulatory structure and corporate lobbying