Boeing plans mandatory design changes on 737 Max 8 aircraft after global outcry on crashes
London, March 12, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Mandatory design changes are to be immediately effected on Boeing 737 Max 8, the type that killed 157 people in Ethiopia on Sunday. This is in response to global outcry that followed the Ethiopian tragedy
The US air regulator told international carriers on Monday that the Boeing 737 Max 8 was airworthy, but said it will mandate forthcoming design changes to the aircraft from Boeing by April.
The new model of aircraft has been involved in two fatal crashes since October, and airlines using the short-haul passenger jet have been inundated with questions from concerned passengers since Sunday, when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed and all 157 people onboard died.
The announcement came as one of Brazil’s biggest airlines, GOL, said it would temporarily ground its seven Max 8 jets, and Aeroméxico suspended use of its six aircraft, echoing a similar move by China, Cayman Airways and African carrier Comair. Argentina’s Association of Airline Pilots too has ordered its members not to fly the Max series. GOL said it had confidence in Boeing and that its Max 8 aircraft had made 2,933 flights, totalling more than 12,700 hours, “in total safety and efficiency”
In a notice, the Federal Aviation Administration said it planned to require design changes by Boeing no later than April. Boeing is working to complete “flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items”, the FAA said.
The FAA also said Boeing “plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the design change” to an automated protection system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The changes also include MCAS activation and angle of attack signal enhancements.
The FAA said in the notice that external reports were drawing similarities between the crash in Ethiopia and the earlier fatal crash off the coast of Indonesia that killed all 189 on board
Like the previous accident, which involved a Lion Air flight that crashed 13 minutes after takeoff, pilots had reported problems with the plane and requested permission to make an emergency landing before losing contact with ground control.
The US transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, said regulators would not hesitate to act if they found a safety issue.
Boeing’s top executive told employees on Monday he was confident in the safety of the US manufacturer’s top-selling 737 Max aircraft. Reuters and other media outlets have reported that Boeing had for months planned design changes after the Lion Air crash but the FAA notice is the first public confirmation.
Alarm over the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8 is leading to passengers demanding the right to know which type of aircraft they will be taking – and the right to cancel based on that.
Passengers worldwide are asking for reassurances on the safety of the planes, with the South African carrier ComAir deciding to ground its 737 Max fleet after being bombarded with customer complaints. (Guardian UK)