Aviation

Report blames Boeing for fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash, as US reveals five contributors to 737 MAX crisis

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Investigators have singled out faulty 737 MAX systems and inadequate training in an interim report on the eve of the anniversary of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash last year.

Tuesday 10 March 2020 marked the one-year anniversary of the tragedy of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed six minutes after take-off, causing the deaths of 157 people.

An international grounding of the jet that followed that month, and the government scrutiny of Boeing that remains today plunged the manufacturer into its worst-ever crisis.

Speaking to The New York Times, chief executive David Calhoun described the problems he is facing as “more than I imagined it would be, honestly”, and that “it speaks to the weaknesses of our leadership”, referring to the tenure of Dennis Muilenburg, who presided over Boeing as it weathered multiple setbacks, culminating in an historic halt to 737 MAX production.

Calhoun, who formally took over at the manufacturer in January, later apologised to senior staff for his comments that criticised his predecessor, after reportedly provoking criticism from Boeing’s senior leadership and company-wide, according to Reuters

Pilots not implicated in Ethiopian Airlines crash, investigators find

In a new interim report on the crash, released on Monday – a day before the anniversary – Ethiopian investigators from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau concluded aircraft design flaws caused the accident.

Pilots were not implicated in the report, despite earlier suggestions (later slammed by an American pilots’ union) that they did not “completely” follow procedures outlined by Boeing.

Instead, authorities said the aircraft had “a valid certificate of airworthiness,” had no known technical problems before departure, and had weight and balance “within the operating limits”.

They said faulty sensor readings and automatic commands did not appear “on the flight crew operation manual”, leaving the crew unable to control the plane, which resulted in the crash.

Investigators also singled out the design of Boeing’s automated software known as MCAS as a key factor in the crash of Flight 302, long held as one of the major causes of both fatal crashes involving the 737 MAX – the other operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of 189 people.

House Committee on Transportation report finds conflict of interest and oversight

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against Boeing to date has come in the form of a preliminary report from the US House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

In it, the committee identified five key themes played a part in the two fatal crashes: production pressures, faulty assumptions, a culture of concealment, conflicted representation and Boeing’s influence over the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight.

A culture of concealment at Boeing contributed to both crashes, with the report finding Boeing had concealed crucial information from the FAA, its customers and the flying public.

Boeing made fundamentally faulty assumptions about critical technologies on the 737 MAX, most notably with MCAS, which relied on a single angle of attack (AOA) sensor for automatic activation. Furthermore, Boeing assumed pilots, who were unaware of the system’s existence in most cases, would be able to mitigate any malfunction.

The committee found that there was “tremendous financial pressure” on Boeing and subsequently the 737 MAX program to compete with Airbus’ A320neo aircraft, which consequently resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 MAX production schedule, and not slow down the jet’s production line.

Several instances were identified where the desire to meet these goals and expectations jeopardised the safety of the flying public.

The report also found that a conflict of interest in regard to representation jeopardised the safety of the flying public, which included instances where Boeing employees were granted special permission to represent the interests of the FAA and act on its behalf to validate aircraft systems and design compliance.

This resulted in a failure to take appropriate actions to represent the interests of the FAA and to protect the flying public.

Multiple career FAA officials have also documented examples to the Committee where FAA management overruled the determination of the FAA’s own technical experts at the behest of Boeing, highlighting the aircraft manufacturer’s influence on oversight.

Featured image: Boeing aircraft at Addis Ababa airport, Ethiopia (iStock.com/mtcurado)



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Aviation

Scoot launches flights to South Korea’s ‘Hawaii of East Asia’

Want a Hawaiian holiday but got yourself banned on your last trip? Here’s the next best thing.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Register for duo, Air New Zealand’s new training and engagement hub and be in the draw to win some epic prizes

Air New Zealand launched its new training and engagement hub called duo, with training, campaigns, incentives the latest brand updates, plus more.

Share

CommentComments

News

Samoa finally announces border re-opening!

The Pacific Island paradise has been working hard to get travel ready and will soon welcome Aussies back to its sunny shores!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“Heroic” flight attendant comes to the rescue as woman gives birth on Frontier Airlines flight

We here at Travel Weekly think this woman deserves a raise, or at least an honorary midwifery degree.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Are you a ‘local legend’? Bonza is on the lookout for 17 ambassadors!

We feel as though a local legend could either be a dedicated charity worker in the community or someone who frequently drinks beer out of a shoe!

Share

CommentComments

Events

Travel DAZE speaker Matt Endycott from nib chats all things travel! Get your tickets now!

We’ve got Matt Endycott – one of our exciting speakers – to share his thoughts on the industry. Come to Travel DAZE to hear Matt discuss all things travel!

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Midweek Catch-up with TRAVLR’s Roann Roberts

We love an alliterative name, all the best superheroes and villains have them. We’re not sure where TRAVLR’s head of global travel product sits on that spectrum, though.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Qantas relaunches Perth-London route, ramps up trans-tasman flights, secures majority stake in TripADeal

Flights resuming to NZ mean that it will be much easier for the all blacks to come over and quickly beat Australia over and over again.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Qatar hotels warned by Fifa over LGBTQ+ discrimination

World Cup controversy has already kicked off before the first match has begun! It’s clear Fifa is taking some lessons from the Australian Open.

Share

CommentComments

News

Japan and Thailand to further ease travel restrictions from 1 June

We thought a nice photo of cherry blossoms in full bloom at Himeji-Jo Castle would be a lot nicer than of some guy getting a swab shoved up his nose for the story.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Star Entertainment Group appoints new interim chairman and CEO

Similarly, we’ve appointed our office dog as the new chief zoomies officer, which is a big improvement on her previous role as VP of weeing in the hallway.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Aurora Expeditions announces maiden voyage for new ship the Sylvia Earle

The expedition cruise line has revealed some smashing destinations for its new ship’s bid debut, so get ready to go penguin spotting!

Share

CommentComments