Readers of this publication are more intimate than most with the circumstances surrounding the tragedy of the Boeing 737 Max, but just as a review, the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 five months later are all attributed to the malfunction of the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system.
Boeing claimed that the MCAS system was designed to create the same flight-control feel as the previous versions of the airplane, as well as compensate for the tendency of the more-forward-mounted, underslung engines to potentially raise the nose to a critical angle of attack at lower speeds and high power during manual flight operations.
In addition to software flaws, typical Boeing redundancy was not included in the MCAS. If a single failure occurred, notably the angle of attack sensors, the stabilizer trim would activate in the nose-down direction, potentially overpowering the crew. Adding salt to the wounds, reference to the function of the MCAS was absent from pilot manuals. As investigations progressed, it was determined that the manufacturer’s emergency- checklist fix for a malfunction, the runaway- stabilizer trim procedure, was inadequate.
Considering the tragedy of 346 lives lost, now what? As with all airplane accidents, more than one culprit is involved. Though the MCAS has received its fair share of the blame, the system is just the Band-Aid to the problem. The real problem is far below the surface and more difficult to address because it’s not tangible.
The issue begins with a long-established FAA program called the Organization Designation Authorization, whose origin can be traced back to 1926 with the advent of an aeromedical branch within the Bureau of Air Commerce, which formed the basis for the network of aeromedical examiners. Pilots who seek medical certificates are very familiar with this examination process. It is performed by private-sector doctors appropriately ordained and trained by the FAA.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Sudden Surprise Trouble
What the FAA taketh away, it giveth back.
LIFE IN THE AIR: Living the Dream
The journey from M X to CFI
Doc, David, Herb and the Cops
A once-in-a-lifetime B-29 flight
WHEN THE MUSIC DIES
VFR FLIGHT INTO IMC
WE FLY: FLIGHT DESIGN F2
AN ALL-AROUND ALL- COMPOSITE TREAT
What works on one airplane might not work on another.
THE FLYING STATION WAGON
Blame for the 737 Max
The FAA designee program is too big to fail.
Leaving the flight deck amidst a pandemic
An Aviation Mentor
Why it’s so important
CHINA NOT READY TO ALLOW THE BOEING 737 MAX BACK IN THE AIR
Beijing isn’t ready to follow the United States in allowing Boeing’s 737 Max back into the air after a pair of fatal crashes two years ago.
NASA bands together with industry for a return to the moon
Boeing To Outsource It Work To Dell, Eliminate 600 Jobs
Boeing Co. has said it will outsource a significant amount of information technology work to Dell starting in April, including support of cloud services, databases and information technology. The move is expected to eliminate 600 jobs.
CANADA OKS RETURN OF BOEING 737 MAX AIRCRAFT
The Boeing 737 Max can return to Canadian airspace beginning this week, officials said, concluding nearly two years of government review after the aircraft was involved in two deadly crashes that saw the planes grounded worldwide.
UAS TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT The Key to the Future of Drones
In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which established a deadline for the agency: achieve full integration of drones into the airspace by 2015. As the calendar rolls over into 2021, this begs an obvious question: “Are we there yet?”
A Colossal Challenge
Photographing Salem’s Oregon Pioneer
WAITING FOR PASSENGERS, AMERICAN PUTS BOEING MAX IN THE AIR
American Airlines is taking its long-grounded Boeing 737 Max jets out of storage, updating key flight-control software, and flying the planes in preparation for the first flights with paying passengers later this month.
EUROPEAN REGULATOR MOVES TO CLEAR BOEING 737 FOR FLIGHT
European regulators took a step closer to letting the Boeing 737 Max fly again, publishing a proposed airworthiness directive that could see the aircraft cleared within weeks after being grounded for nearly two years over deadly crashes.
FAA CLEARS BOEING 737 MAX TO FLY AGAIN
After nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Boeing’s 737 Max for flight.
CLEARED FOR TAKE OFF
Navigating the regulations for public sector drones