Ethiopian Airlines crash and the flaws of the 737 MAX

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Ethiopian Airlines crash and the flaws of the 737 MAX

UNDER INVESTIGATION: The depiction of the remains of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which crashed on March 10 killing all 157 on board. The cause of the crash is currently under investigations, however there are many similarities with the Lion Air crash which occurred on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

UNDER INVESTIGATION: The depiction of the remains of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which crashed on March 10 killing all 157 on board. The cause of the crash is currently under investigations, however there are many similarities with the Lion Air crash which occurred on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

Mimi Gaudiano

UNDER INVESTIGATION: The depiction of the remains of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which crashed on March 10 killing all 157 on board. The cause of the crash is currently under investigations, however there are many similarities with the Lion Air crash which occurred on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

Mimi Gaudiano

Mimi Gaudiano

UNDER INVESTIGATION: The depiction of the remains of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which crashed on March 10 killing all 157 on board. The cause of the crash is currently under investigations, however there are many similarities with the Lion Air crash which occurred on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

Leo Fukano, Staff Writer

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Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 departed with 149 passengers and eight crew from Addis Ababa. On March 19, the flight was scheduled to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, but the aircraft never made it to the destination. Shortly after takeoff, the Ethiopian Boeing 737-8 MAX began to make erratic movements. According to CNN, “The pilots reported to air traffic control that they were having issues with controlling the aircraft and that they needed to land immediately. The request to return back was approved by air traffic control. Shortly after the approval, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 slammed into terrain, giving all 157 people on board fatal injuries.” This accident is the second fatal crash of a Boeing 737-8 MAX within a year. Earlier, in October of 2018, Lion Air flight 610 had the same fate with the same exact model of plane, that time crashing into the ocean instead of terrain. This raises suspicion of the new Boeing model due to how frequent and similar these fatal accidents occurred. Freshman, Olivia Meyers says, “I think you can argue there is a strong correlation there. The same plane, and the same kind of accident would make you wonder if it is the same kind of problem.”

The manufacturer of the 737-8 MAX is Boeing, one of the biggest aircraft manufacturers in the airline industry. Their aircraft have a reputation of being very safe and reliable. The previous 737 New Generation series was very successful, and airlines across the world use the aircraft to date. The 737 MAX series was created with the airlines and the passengers in mind. It is more comfortable for the passengers with updated and quieter interiors. It is also great for airlines due to newer, more efficient engines, which saves airlines lots of money on expensive fuel costs. This increases the overall range of the aircraft providing more serviceability and potential profit. The MAX is a win-win for both passengers and airlines. As soon as it was released, the aircraft immediately became a hit within the airline industry.

Now the 737 MAX series is grounded and under heavy investigation. According to the CNBC, “The U.S. government ordered airlines to suspend flights using the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, joining dozens of other countries in taking that step amid concerns about the similarities between the March tenth crash of an Ethiopian airlines 737 MAX crash and a Lion Air crash in October, which together killed 346 people.” There is a serious issue when 346 people’s lives are lost on two accidents in the same plane that happened within a year of each other, especially in modern-day air travel. Some agree with the government’s choice to ground the MAX. Junior Sarah Rose Manzella says,”They should ground the plane. The mechanics of the aircraft should be checked, because there could be something wrong with all the models not just that one.” Others believe that it was not the planes fault. Sophomore Ryhor Pryslopski says, ”I do not think it was the plane’s fault. Just by hearing about the details of the crash, I do not think it was the plane that caused it specifically.” There are many factors that could have played a role in the crashes.

It is possible that human error was a factor in the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash. The pilots could have been inadequately trained and informed on the new safety features and technology that was implemented on the 737 MAX. According to Avherald, “On March 21st, the airline stressed that all pilots underwent the Boeing recommended and FAA approved differences training from the Boeing 737 New Generation series to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft before the MAX aircraft joined the Ethiopian Airlines fleet and before the pilots started flying the MAX. The pilots were also briefed on the engine and alert display by the FAA concerning the Lion Air accident.” All of the Ethiopian Airlines pilots who fly the MAX took the Federal Air Administration approved training, meaning they should have been more than qualified to fly the aircraft safely. Senior Rohan Chopra says, “I do not think it is the pilots faults because they are trained. I would say the engineering, programming and physics of the aircraft is most likely at fault in this situation.”

Boeing recently came out with a “fix” for the aircraft’s software, meaning there were flaws in the aircraft’s software to begin with. According to the BBC, “The plane-maker Boeing has issued an upgrade to the software that has been linked to the crashes. The Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), designed to keep the plane from stalling, reacts to sensors which detect whether the jet is climbing at too steep of an angle. But an investigation of the Lion Air flight last year suggested the system malfunctioned, forcing the planes nose down. Boeing has redesigned the software so that it will disable MCAS if it receives conflicting data from its sensors.” Although Boeing has not admitted full fault of the two recent crashes, by having to “fix” the software, it is showing that the flawed MCAS software could have been a factor in the crashes. If the software was not a factor in the crash, there would be no need to revise it immediately.

With two fatal crashes happening and the entire 737 MAX fleet being grounded and under heavy investigation, Boeing’s new aircraft is not off to a good start. On Tuesday March 26, there was another issue with a MAX. This incident occurred on a ferry flight, or a flight with no passengers since the aircraft is currently grounded for all commercial aviation applications. According to the Seattle Times, “A Boeing 737 MAX operated by Southwest Airlines that was being ferried from Florida to California for storage suffered an engine problem on Tuesday. Southwest has already moved at least 15 of its fleet of 35 MAXs to Victorville, California, a desert airfield where there is lots of space to park the planes.” Although the aircraft landed safely, an engine issue on a brand new plane that already is under investigation for its flight control system is going to make the MAX’s reputation even worse. It seems more and more flaws of the MAX are revealing themselves over time.

The 737 MAX 8 has had its reputation soiled from the recent Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes. According to CNN, “The Indonesian airline Garuda said Friday that it is canceling a multi billion-dollar order for Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 passenger jet after the plane was involved in two deadly crashes in less than five months. ‘Our passengers have lost confidence to fly with the MAX 8’ Garuda spokesperson Ikhsan Rosan told CNN.” Boeing is now losing massive deals with airlines like Garuda, because of the recent crashes, costing them a large loss of profit. The airlines are not the only people the concerned about the plane, passengers are also becoming paranoid of the plane. If this paranoia of the MAX continues, airlines using the plane will loose money, forcing them to quit using them, costing both the Airlines and Boeing.