Wednesday 16 October 2019

Boeing is warned of flaws in its Max pilot safety tests

Production of the Boeing 737 Max was slashed after two fatal crashes (PA)
Production of the Boeing 737 Max was slashed after two fatal crashes (PA)

David Shepardson

Boeing Co failed to adequately consider how pilots respond to cockpit emergencies in its 737 Max safety assessment and may need to make changes to flight deck alerts, pilot procedures and training, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The US air accident investigator unveiled yesterday several recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following the fatal crashes of a Lion Air 737 Max in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max five months apart that killed a total of 346 people. The crashes led to the plane's grounding and raised questions about the FAA's certification of the new aircraft.

The crews in those crashes "did not react in the ways Boeing and the FAA assumed they would", said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Boeing has said the feeding of erroneous angle of attack data to a system called MCAS that pushed the planes lower was a common link in two wider chains of events leading to the crashes. MCAS stands for manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system.

"We want FAA to ensure that Boeing takes a close look at all these different failure conditions that can activate MCAS and ensure that they have evaluated the pilots' response to that," Dana Schulze, director of the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety, told reporters. NTSB wants that assessment completed before the plane's grounding is lifted.

Boeing's 737 Max simulator tests with test pilots "did not look at all potential flight deck alerts and indications that pilots might face when this specific failure condition occurred in Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines", Ms Schulze said, adding that Boeing did not evaluate the "actual scenario" in the two fatal crashes in the simulator.

Irish Independent

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