On 29 October 2018, a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight JT610 owned by Lion Air travelling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after takeoff. All 189 passengers and crew were killed in the accident.
Investigations revealed that the crash was caused by the automated “angle of attack” (AOA) anti-stall sensor that activated the system and was giving a false reading.
A stall is a dangerous situation where the lift from an aircraft’s wings no longer is enough to counter the weight of the plane, causing it to lose control and fall.
The malfunction initiated a 12-minute tug of war as the system — called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — repeatedly forced the plane’s nose down and the pilots brought it back up again.
At the end of this wrestling match, the pilots lost control and the jet went into a steep dive, crashing into the Java Sea at approximately 500 miles per hour.
US airlines pilot union say Boeing did not include any mention of the new system in the Aircraft Flight Manual. Further, the system activates automatically with no notice given to the pilot and they have also not being taught how to respond if it malfunctions. The pilots say they actually learned about MCAS after the LionAir crash.
In November, Boeing delivered the ill-fated 737 Max 8 plane to Ethiopia Airlines maybe without informing them of the MCAS system issues or training their pilots on how to handle the system if it malfunctions.
On Thursday March 7, 2018 just 3 days ago, a Seattle personal-injury law firm sued Boeing on behalf of the families of 17 Indonesian passengers who died in the crash.
Today the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 has crashed just 6 minutes after take off. Could the same system be responsible?
Most likely YES and the rest of the 737 Max 8 and 9 in operation should be grounded until a solution is found and pilots trained on how to deal with a malfuntion of the system to avert another disaster.