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  • Zaynab Ravat

The downfall of Boeing

Netflix recently added a documentary based on the Boeing 737 Max model, which caused two crashes; Lion Airflight 610 in 2018 and Ethiopian airlines flight 320 in 2019. The 737 max was then grounded as ordered by the FAA. Here is my quick overview of what happened with the 737 Max.



The documentary includes previous workers turned whistleblowers; who go into detail about how the Boeing company cut off hundreds of workers to cut down salaries and this led to more workload and less care about safety. Capitalism at its finest; the more money the higher-ups made the better. Boeing had managed to gain a hefty load of orders whilst competing against their rival, Airbus. Time meant money and being able to produce as much as possible; safety was not a priority.




Alongside the lack of safety checks, the new Max model had an updated system incorporated called MCAS.

The new MAX model had much larger and more powerful engines which meant in certain manoeuvres the nose of the aeroplane would be pushed upwards.

MCAS was a system that was designed so the new MAX design would still perform the same as the previous designs; when the nose of the aeroplane would be sensed as too high (which could make the plane stall and crash) by the AOA, MCAS would automatically be switched on to push the nose down.


This is what is described as what would activate MCAS at the time of the fatal accidents:

How did MCAS initially work?
Prior to being enhanced, MCAS relied on information from a single Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor to monitor the angle of the airplane. In the two accidents, a single AOA sensor gave incorrect information to MCAS, which caused it to activate. In both cases, MCAS engaged repeatedly when the sensor continued to incorrectly report a high AOA.
(Boeing.com)

The existence of MCAS was kept hidden by Boeing, there was no training provided and pilots were unaware of MCAS, the FAA also approved Boeing's request to remove the description of MCAS from the aircraft manual.

So summed up in simple words; to cut down on pilots' training costs Boeing had cost the lives of 346 people.



Taken from the Netflix documentary. A visual of what happened to the Lion Air flight

With the first Lion air crash, the pilots were completely unaware of how to deal with the situation. Given that MCAS was a hidden update and there were no instructions given on how to deal with it; after the AOA had incorrectly triggered MCAS they approximately had ten seconds before they would fall nose down into the ocean.





4 months and ten days later the Ethiopian airline ran into the same situation as Lion air, the AOA had again inaccurately started up MCAS. The pilots followed the protocol they were told by Boeing However, within the next 10 seconds they would be finding themselves nose down crashing towards the ground.


Boeings response

The CEO of Boeing at the time Dennis Muilenburg's lack of care was clear as daylight. Despite having the power to investigate and ground the aeroplanes until MCAS was fixed he did not. Boeing behind the scenes stereotypically had the nerve to say how 'American pilots would have never gotten into this situation and they questioned the pilot's qualifications. Blatant insensitiveness towards the families of the pilots.


Above are images of Dennis Muoelnburg at a hearing and having to look in the faces of the victims of the crashes as well as mourning family members.




Boeing apparently had mentioned along the lines that they did not share MCAS with pilots first, to avoid overwhelming them with information ( as mentioned in the documentary). For Boeing being known as the pilot's advocate that was a senseless excuse.

After MCAS was ruled as the reason for both crashes, Dennis Muilenburg stepped down from CEO along with $62.2M in pension and stock. As mentioned in many articles this was the outcome of corruption of power.

How about the families grieving their loved ones? How was it fair that once again another powerful white man with money and resources and power was allowed to walk off lightly with hefty pension money. For someone who did the bare minimum in this situation, stock and pension money was the last thing he deserved.


By March 18th 2019 all aircraft were grounded and brought back to Boeing headquarters causing a deserved $20-60 million-dollar loss to the company.

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Boeing - The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells aeroplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide.

Angle of Attack (AOA) – the difference between the pitch angle (nose direction) of the aeroplane and the angle of the oncoming wind.

Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) – flight control law implemented on the 737 MAX to improve aircraft handling characteristics and decrease pitch-up tendency at elevated angles of attack.


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Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the blog post belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the organisation, blog owner and/or management. The blog owner and management take no responsibility for the material's authenticity and/or accuracy.

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