Days after the fatal crash of Boeing 737 Max jet in Ethiopia and after many governments and airlines across the world grounded or banned the jet, the US administration has grounded Boeing’s 737 Max fleet on Wednesday.
Following this, Boeing itself announced pulling down of its entire 737 fleet globally.,
Two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max jet within a span of about five months and some apparent similarities between the crashes raised fears about a potentially fatal safety flaw in the jet.
All of the 371 models of the aircraft currently in operation were announced to have been suspended by Boeing on Wednesday 13 March.
According to American and Canadian regulators, there was a a link between the two fatal crashes –caused by a faulty automated system that is inherent in the jet and was designed to stop the craft from stalling. It is known commonly as MCAS.
The new data showed “vertical variations” in the Ethiopian Airlines flight which is similar to what was witnessed in the Lion Air flight before the crash, said Marc Garneau, Canada’s transport minister.
But experts and investigators are yet not certain about what is wrong with the MCAS system. However, based on preliminary investigations and data, the system may have got activated on both the flights that crashed. The nose of the Lion Air flight was pushed downward because of malfunctioning sensor readings, speculate experts. The attempts of the pilots to pull the nose up were apparently overridden by MCAS. A similar thing happened with the Ethiopian Airlines based on the limited data so far available.
According to the Ethiopian Airlines, the captain of the ill fated craft had reported difficulties and wanted to return back to the airport.
The similarities between the two crashes include the involvement of the same model of Boeing 737 – the new iteration, the Max 8. Both the crafts had been in service for just a few months before crashing and the pilots reported difficulties in controlling the plane soon after takeoff.
For Boeing, the 737 Max craft is s crucial component of its portfolio and has been its fastest selling model in history with over 5,000 orders placed and more than 350 of the crafts being already used by airlines. According to estimates, Boeing has sold a total of about $600bn worth of planes already. The 737 models have are also the most common planes used by airlines for short haul flights. The latest model of the 737 is a significantly more fuel efficient one, has a greater number of seats on a similar-sized plane, and a longer range.
However, despite initial claims from the US that the plane was safe, dozens of countries grounded the aircraft and prevented its flight in their airspace.
Flying of all 737 Max models in their airspace has been banned by the European Union, followed the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Malaysia. The operation of 737 Max planes flying into and out of the country have been suspended by Singapore, Australia and New Zealand’s regulators. Domestic airlines in China have been ordered to suspend 737 Max 8 flights by authorities there and airlines’ 737 Max 8 jets have been grounded for inspections in India, Indonesia, South Korea and Oman.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)