Monday, 22 April, 2019

Boeing CEO apologizes for fatal plane crash, accepts blame

The accident aircraft Boeing 737 MAX 8 ET-AVJ of Ethiopian Airlines The accident aircraft Boeing 737 MAX 8 ET-AVJ of Ethiopian Airlines
Leonard Rios | 06 April, 2019, 04:25

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg issued a statement Thursday from the Renton 737 factory expressing "the huge gravity of these events across our company", and acknowledging the role the new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, played in the crash.

The head of the Ethiopian investigation, Mr Amdiye Ayalew, said the full probe would take six months to a year, but that there had been no sign of "foreign object damage" to the aircraft.

He said investigators are going to be focussed far more on the interaction between software and pilots rather than mechanical issues in future. Other pilots said the flight crew's actions were understandable given the chaotic situation.

He repeated that Boeing was making progress on updating the MCAS software and finalising new training for Max pilots.

"These guys are executing the check list", Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union, said of the Ethiopian pilots after reviewing the report.

The company said a preliminary report from Ethiopian authorities contained flight data recorder information indicating the aircraft had an erroneous angle of attack sensor input that activated the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) function during the flight - as it had Lion Air 610.

The malfunction triggered an anti-stall feature that forced the plane into a dive - the same system that was implicated in a crash less than five months before in Indonesia that killed 189 people. But this has failed to satisfy many relatives who questioned why Boeing did not act earlier to take the planes out of service.

The Wall Street Journal reported that pilots of the Boeing 737 Max turned off a flight-control system but still couldn't get the plane to climb.

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"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft", Dagmawit Moges told a news conference in the capital, Addis Ababa.

"We'll do everything possible to earn and re-earn that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the weeks and months ahead".

Ethiopian Airlines plane crash wreckage at the site where the plane dived into the ground.

The 737's air data computer also uses angle-of-attack (AOA) information to adjust airspeed readings.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that United States regulators had ordered Boeing to fix a second flight-control problem, not related to MCAS, but which officials nevertheless deemed critical to flight safety. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system.

The statement also stressed that a looming update to the system would "eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again".

The preliminary report, which stops short of determining the cause of the crash, chronicles the chaotic last moments aboard the flight before it crashed. The trim system is also used to stabilise a plane.

The chief pilot's father, Dr Getachew Tessema, told the BBC the apology was "too little, too late".

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