Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Boeing 737 Max aeroplanes have a 'safety deficiency'........

The Boeing 737 Max aeroplanes have “a potential, significant aviation system safety deficiency” says a leading US pilot union. 

The US Air Line Pilots Association informed the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that  "the lack of critical safety information being provided to the air carriers and frontline operators is concerning.” The ALPA is the largest US pilots union representing around 61,000 pilots flying for at least 34 airlines in North America is worried about the causes of the crash of the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max last month in Indonesia. In a letter to the authorities, it requested  those working with Boeing “to communicate all relevant information to the operators to ensure the continued safe operation of this aircraft.”

In the last week or so the FAA issued an airworthiness directive about the type which warned operators that erroneous inputs from the aviation anti-stall system’s sensors could lead the aircraft to automatically force its nose to pitch down, regardless of if the autopilot is turned on or off, making it extremely difficult for pilots to regain full control the jet.

The union's letter states “Based on recent reporting about the 737 Max, we are concerned that a potential, significant aviation system safety deficiency exists, and we are writing to ask for your immediate help and assistance in clarifying the issues with respect to the pitch control system of the aircraft,”. The union is also critical of the lack of communication from Boeing regarding the issues, writing that information about “this system was not provided to the frontline airline employees—the flight crews and maintenance technicians - which appears to be a significant information gap.”   

The Indonesian authorities looking into the crash of the Lion Air 737 Max jet that killed all 189 people on board believe the pilots of the aircraft faced an issue that was not addressed in the aircraft’s flight manual. Indeed, the father of one of those killed in the Lion Air crash, Rio Nanda Pratama, has filed a lawsuit against Boeing, alleging it had not adequately warned airlines or its pilots of an unsafe design condition. 

Further emphasising the lack of information provided by Boeing came when major US airline, American, confirmed that it had not been fully aware of some functions of an anti-stall systems on the 737 Max until last week. “We value our partnership with Boeing, but were unaware of some of the functionality of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) installed on the MAX 8,” an American Airlines spokesperson told the media on Wednesday, November 14th, adding "We must ensure that our pilots are fully trained on procedures and understand key systems on the aircraft they fly.” 

It has been reported that three other operators of the 737 Max variety of aircraft had been unaware of some aspects in the control systems and at least two other incidents of pitching down were being investigated by regulators. 

(Photos Boeing)