The Ethiopian Airways aircraft that crashed Sunday, killing 157, was the identical mannequin that crashed in October throughout a Lion Air flight in Indonesia. The 2 lethal accidents raised questions and public alarm in regards to the security of the plane, a Boeing 737 Max eight.
Greater than 1,000 readers responded after we invited questions. Here’s a choice, with solutions from Christine Negroni, an aviation author, a former air security investigator and the creator of the ebook “The Crash Detectives.”
Questions have been frivolously edited for readability. You probably have extra, please depart them within the feedback.
Have any U.S. airways grounded the Boeing 737 Max eight?
— Mark Donald, Dallas
American Airways and Southwest Airways, the one two United States carriers flying the Max eight, have each opted to maintain the airplane within the air.
Which airways have the Boeing 737 Max eight of their fleet, and what’s the very best useful resource to see what aircraft will probably be flying a selected route?
Around the globe, 47 airways have the Max eight of their fleet, together with airways on each inhabited continent. However greater than two-thirds of the airways working the Max eight have grounded it.
Throughout on-line reserving, vacationers can see the mannequin of the plane assigned to their flight after they choose their seat. A number of web sites devoted to frequent vacationers additionally present this info, together with FlightStats.com and SeatGuru.com. Watch out for canceling a ticket since you don’t wish to fly on the Max eight. The airline in all probability gained’t refund your cash or allow you to rebook with out a penalty.
Is the brand new know-how related to the Lion Air crash new to solely the Max eight sequence of plane? Whether it is discovered that the identical know-how additionally had a job within the Ethiopian Airways crash, what kind of repercussions would Boeing be topic to?
— Marcus Bierbaum, Cleveland
The know-how that’s beneath scrutiny is the maneuvering traits augmentation system, or MCAS. It’s a part of the flight management software program on each the Max eight and the Max 9. If info from the Ethiopian Airways crash suggests the software program may need been an element within the catastrophe, the implications for Boeing could possibly be extreme. It has already begun a pricey and sophisticated redesign of the flight management software program. It has been sued by households of the victims and suffered a blow to its popularity.
Boeing’s prospects have additionally suffered penalties, as nearly all of airways that fly the Max eight have grounded their planes or have been instructed to by their authorities’s regulators. Moreover, on Tuesday, the European Union and different nations around the globe banned Max fashions from flying of their airspace.
What coaching is required for 737 pilots to transition to flying the 737 Max eight? Have the necessities modified?
— Don Griffin, Houston
The coaching required to transition from one mannequin of 737 to the following is determined by the airline. The 737 has a “frequent cockpit” design, which means that a pilot licensed to fly one mannequin can simply transfer to a different. Airways that use a number of variants of the plane respect that flexibility.
A Southwest Airways captain instructed me that at his firm pilots who will fly the Max eight are required to look at a video to familiarize themselves with slight variations within the programs and the engines. A spokesman at American Airways, Ross Feinstein says pilots should assessment a coaching handbook earlier than transferring to the Max.
Are all pilots that fly the 737 Max eight explicitly educated on Boeing’s MCAS flight management system? Do they be taught the way it works and easy methods to flip it off if it malfunctions?
— Alexandra Zaporozec, Chicago
Earlier than the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October, Boeing had not notified pilots that the MCAS was working on the Max or that in sure circumstances it would trigger the airplane to pitch down. After the Lion Air crash, Boeing despatched a service bulletin to its prospects, and the Federal Aviation Administration adopted up with an emergency directive ordering Boeing to alter the airplane flight handbook and supply the flight crew with a approach to keep away from being stunned or reacting incorrectly to the MCAS.
Have pilots on different flights of this aircraft skilled failure of the sensors and efficiently manually overridden the MCAS?
— Jerry Engelbach, Mexico
The day earlier than the Lion Air crash, the pilots who flew the identical airplane reported issues with the angle-of-attack sensor, which tells pilots the angle of the airplane because it passes by way of the air. Upkeep staff at Lion Air changed the sensor, and the aircraft was put again in service to fly as Flight 610. Outdoors of that occasion, which was revealed after the crash, there have been no different public stories of pilots experiencing this type of downside.
That mentioned, pilots of any model of the 737 may encounter conditions wherein a flight management floor on the tail of the airplane can push the nostril down unexpectedly, inflicting the aircraft to dive. This can be a state of affairs they prepare for within the simulator.
What they might not prepare for — as a result of they didn’t know — was that the MCAS would power the airplane right into a cycle of repeated dives. The pilot may cease this cycle solely by eradicating energy from a management floor.
Can airways or pilots decide to completely disable the MCAS software program characteristic?
— Christoph Dwertmann, Sydney, Australia
That doesn’t look like an choice. Be mindful additionally that altering software program just isn’t as straightforward as swapping digits. Boeing must be fairly positive that by fixing a identified hazard it doesn’t insert an unknown hazard.
I’ve heard one report of an eyewitness who noticed smoke emanating from the Ethiopian aircraft simply earlier than the crash. Is it confirmed that fireplace was noticed from the tail part earlier than influence?
— Jim Pollock, Boulder, Colo.
There was no affirmation of a fireplace on board the plane earlier than the accident, however actually the whole lot that occurred on the airplane earlier than its influence will probably be a part of the investigation. Proof of a fireplace could be recorded by the flight knowledge recorder, which is already within the custody of air security officers. The flight knowledge recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, identified collectively as black containers, present voluminous details about the airplane, its engines and its operation.
Concerning the co-pilot, did he have solely 200 whole hours of flying ever?
— Melissa Sturdy, New Orleans
The chairman of Ethiopian Airways mentioned the co-pilot, Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur, had 200 hours. These hours have been probably along with the time he had spent studying to fly. In response to Yeshiwas Zeggeye, a flight teacher with the airline, pilot cadets accrue 200 or extra hours throughout their coaching.
How does the security document of the 737 Max eight examine with that of Boeing’s different jets?
— Lauren Ammerman, Texas
Gauging the security of a selected mannequin of airplane is a tough enterprise. On what standards is “security” based mostly? Accidents? Solely deadly accidents? What about close to accidents or occasions that shock the pilots? An airplane could not crash however nonetheless maintain unrecognized hazards. And an airline could not have good upkeep practices.
To establish issues of safety, investigators around the globe are turning to large knowledge, inspecting volumes of knowledge generated on tons of of hundreds of unusual flights to attempt to decide if planes and pilots are working as anticipated and establish when they aren’t. That is thought of a simpler means of detecting hazards than studying about them from disasters.
How carefully associated, in design of flight controls and flight software program, are different 737 Max fashions? May a doable grounding of the 737 Max eight fleet additionally have an effect on different Max fashions, such because the Max 9?
— Fabian Grusdt, Munich
Each the Max eight and the Max 9 have the MCAS system, and the Max 9 has additionally been focused for grounding in a number of nations.
Is there any cause to consider foul play could have been concerned on this crash?
— Rick Thompson, Sanibel, Fla.
Rick, you ask an excellent query. On the day of the accident, the State Division issued a journey advisory for each Meskel Sq., a standard assembly place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the town’s Bole Worldwide Airport. Authorities and embassy personnel have been suggested to not use the airport that day.
That mentioned, up to now there was no indication from the Ethiopian authorities or anybody else that a terrorist or a felony attacked the flight. Nonetheless, your query reminds us all to maintain an open thoughts about what may need occurred to Flight 302.
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