Recently, a hearing was held before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee regarding the failure of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This inquiry comes after the crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts within several months of one another. The first crash occurred near Jakarta, Indonesia when a Lion Airlines flight crashed into the ocean in late 2018. Subsequently, in March of 2019, the same model aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed in March of 2019.
Dennis Muilenberg Boeing’s CEO offered apologies to the families of the victims during his testimony before the committee, however there was still significant condemnation of Boeing’s testing and development of the MAX 8 aircraft.
In the aftermath of the two MAX 8 aircraft disasters, investigations into Boeing’s actions have uncovered information that Boeing was aware of the aircraft’s problems related to the flight control software as early as 2016. One quote read by Senator Ted Cruz showed that test pilots were aware that the MCAS system was “running rampant.” The senator went on to ask Mr. Muilenburg “how the hell did no one bring this to your attention?”
The flight controls in the MAX 8 are assisted by the MCAS or maneuvering characteristics augmentation system. The MCAS system is designed to stabilize the aircraft during flight by pushing down the nose of the aircraft when it perceives an abnormality associated with the AoA (Angle of Attack). The MCAS inputs are automatic into the flight controls in order to prevent the aircraft from stalling during climb. Unfortunately, this flight control system can become inexcusably and unreasonably dangerous due to false readings and the subsequent incorrect automated control inputs.
To make the situation inexcusably worse, according to some reports Boeing failed to even mention MCAS in the MAX 8’s flight manual or to provide training and instructions to the pilots regarding MCAS emergency procedures. Another senator, Jon Tester is quoting during the hearing as saying “I would walk before I was to get on the 737 MAX.”