The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Airlines, nations ground Boeing jet after deadly crash

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 3/12/19, 11:07 am

Airlines and nations around the world are grounding a new Boeing jet, as officials and experts investigate the cause of a crash Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that killed all 157 people on board. The Boeing 737 Max 8 owned by Ethiopian Airlines went down in clear weather six minutes after taking off for Nairobi.

British, German, French, Dutch, and Italian regulators are the most recent to ban the jet from their countries’ airspace, with Malaysia, Australia, and Singapore suspending all flights involving the plane into and out of the country. The European Aviation Safety Agency has also issued a directive grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 model aircraft and applied it to all European Union airspace. Oman, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and South Korean Eastar Jet have joined airlines in China and Indonesia, Aeroméxico, Brazil’s Gol Airlines, India’s Jet Airways, and other countries and airlines in grounding the plane, with some citing worried customers as the reason for the action.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it expects Boeing will soon complete improvements to an automated anti-stall system suspected of contributing to the deadly October crash of another Boeing 737 Max 8 and update training requirements and related flight crew manuals. But safety experts have cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between it and the crash in Ethiopia. Boeing said it has no reason to pull the aircraft from service and its technical team has joined U.S., Israeli, United Arab Emirates, Kenyan, and other aviation experts in the investigation of Sunday’s crash led by Ethiopian authorities.

Victims of the crash came from 35 countries and included dozens of humanitarian workers. It could take up to five days before any remains are identified, Ethiopian airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw said.

Editor’s note: We have updated this article to include additional countries that have announced they have closed their airspace to the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.

Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 05:34 pm

    Just totally guessing here, but I suspect eventually a flaw in the aircraft’s operating system software will be found. Something in the operations coding that causes the engines to cut power under certain fairly unusual circumstances at takeoff.  I say unusual as there have only been 2 crashes. I suspect there will be more if this model continues to fly.  

    I myself would probably not fly on a 737 Max 8 until the flaw has been determined and corrected. 

  • VISTA48
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 06:02 pm

    There is a Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) embedded in the flight control software that automatically pushes the nose down when an impending stall is sensed. This is installed in different variants on all modern commercial aircraft. There is nothing that would cut engine power in such a situation, as that make the situation worse. If the MCAS is malfunctioning, the pilots can disable it by toggling the trim disconnect switches, or by initiating opposite trim. My guess is that they will change the software to allow the pilots to override the MCAS with the primary controls instead of just opposite trim and trim disconnect. As for safety in the meantime, All US commercial pilots practice the corrective actions for these types of failures at least biannually. I'm sure that they have all reviewed their runaway trim procedures since the latest mishap. I would fly on a 737 MAX with any US licensed pilot without a second thought. (Disclosure: I've worked in the industry for 40 years).

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 06:24 pm

    Vista48, I’m sure you are correct. But to clarify, I wasn’t so much guessing the design of the software is flawed, as wondering if there is a coding error that causes, in certain circumstances, the control programs to not function as designed.  Also, my suggestion of loss of power was only a “for example”. Could be many things like flap settings etc.  With your background, maybe you could tell us whether that is even a possibility.