Boeing Acknowledges Sensor Malfunction In Ethiopian Plane Crash


Boeing has admitted that the flight sensor on board the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 that crashed last month had indeed malfunctioned.

The embattled aircraft maker acknowledged there was a problem with its aircraft sensor, which may have led to the air disaster outside Addis Ababa on March 10 that killed 157 passengers.

In a video statement, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg addressed the issue and promised that the company will release a software update that would prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

"It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk," he said. "We own it, and we know how to do it."

Muilenburg added that the company will do everything it can to earn the trust and confidence of customers again in the months to come.

He also offered his sympathies to everyone affected by the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

A Serious Glitch In Boeing's Flight Sensor

Boeing's announcement comes after the Ethiopian government released its preliminary findings on the Ethiopian Airlines crash based on flight data and voice recordings of the pilots.

The report said a serious glitch in the 737 Max 8 flight sensor triggered a series of events that led to the pilots losing control of the 737 Max 8. Problems arose about a minute after the plane had taken off from Bole International Airport.

The air speed and altitude data on the aircraft's left side did not match those from its right sensor, causing the flight system to go haywire.

While the pilots tried to regain control of the 737 Max 8, the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) prevented them from doing so. The MCAS was designed to keep Max jets from stalling while in flight.

In a press conference, Ethiopia's Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges described how the Ethiopian Airlines crew tried to keep the plane on the correct orientation during the flight.

He said the pilots repeatedly performed all of Boeing's procedures in order to recover control of the 737 Max 8, but they failed.

What was unclear was whether the pilots were able to follow the manufacturer's recommendations exactly to the letter.

The report said the pilots had turned off the MCAS, but they turned it back on seconds later to try to force the plane to point its nose up.

The Max jet pilots should leave the flight software disconnected during the emergency and continued flying the plane manually until they finish the flight, according to Boeing's instructions.

The Ethiopian Airlines flight ultimately plummeted to ground, killing everyone on board.

Investigators said the circumstances behind the accident in Ethiopia bared similarities with those of the Lion Air crash last year. Both aircraft were relatively new 737 Max 8 models fitted with the same MCAS software and flight sensors.

They discovered that sensor readings on the earlier flight caused the plane's software to point the nose of the plane down just before it crashed into the Java Sea.

Safety Of 737 Max 8 Jets

The Ethiopian government's report raises questions about Boeing's assertion that Max jet pilots could regain control of flights during emergencies by following standard procedures, which include turning the MCAS off.

Boeing said it is already working on a software fix that would prevent the MCAS from activating unintentionally in the future. It will add several layers of protection to the flight system and prevent wrong data from triggering the feature.

The aircraft maker added that it is also developing a comprehensive training programs for Max jet pilots.

The MCAS was not mentioned specifically in the report, but investigators recommended that Boeing should review the 737 Max jets' flight-control system.

Several governments around the world, including the United States, ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 pending the release of the software fix. The update would have to undergo approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation regulators.

Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport in Ethiopia, said the pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines flight followed all of the procedures provided by Boeing but still failed to wrest control of the plane.

However, it is not yet known whether the flight crew was able to perform all the manufacturer's instructions accurately.

The report said the pilots had turned off the MCAS, but they turned it back on seconds later to try to force the plane to point its nose up.

Boeing has instructed Max jet pilots to leave the flight software disconnected during emergencies and continue flying the plane manually until they finish the flight.

ⓒ 2018 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Real Time Analytics