Ethiopian Airlines plane crash: Aviation experts and pilots suspect Boeing 737 MAX 8’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), also known as the automated anti-stall system, brought the Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet down on Sunday in which 157 people lost their lives. The automated anti-stall system is a new characteristic that relies on a gadget installed on the outside of the MAX 8 jet to measure how high the nose is. If the nose of the aircraft is too high when a plane is climbing too quickly, the automated system brings it down. Experts said the new software stops that stall, but it also brings the nose down for no good reason. The software should kick in during autopilot mode, but not when the aircraft is flown manually by the pilot.
Boeing faces safety questions after a second crash of brand new 737 MAX 8 within five months. Earlier, all 189 on board had been killed after a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet of Lion Air (Flight JT610) plunged into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after taking off. The pilot reported technical problems and was trying to return to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport but lost contact with the ground station. Reports said the Boeing 737-8 Max’s airspeed indicator was broken. Reports also suggested that the plane’s sensors had developed snag.
In the aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines jet crash, several countries including Ethiopia, China and Indonesia are grounding their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also sought a clarification from Boeing regarding the safety and air-worthiness of the jet as budget carrier SpiceJet is currently operating 13 B737 Max. SpiceJet and Jet Airways have ordered 205 and 225 Boeing 737 Max jets, respectively.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 was delivered to Ethiopia Airlines on 15 November 2018. According to Ethiopia Airlines’ website, it only had 1 Boeing 737 MAX 8 in operation for “medium range passenger services” and had 29 MAX 8s on order.
About Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing offers the 737 MAX passengers in four variants — 737 MAX 7 (138 – 153 seats) , 737 MAX 8 (162 – 178 seats), 737 MAX 9 (178 – 193 seats) and 737 MAX 10 (188 – 204 seats). The 737 MAX 8, the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrow-body jet that first entered service in 2017, was developed as a response to the Airbus A320 Neo. Boeing termed the 737 MAX 8 as the most fuel-efficient, technologically advanced passenger plane equipped with powerful LEAP-1B engines. In the 737 MAX program, Boeing invested 1–1.8 billion dollar to develop the airframe and an additional 2–3 billion dollar to develop the engine. The maiden flight of the jet took place on January 29, 2016. Since then, the jet has accumulated nearly 4,700 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air China, Icelandair, LOT Polish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, SpiceJet, Lion Air are using the jet to fly passengers on a regular basis.
Boeing plans to replace the ageing 37-700, 800, and 900 passenger jets with the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, and MAX 9, respectively.