Wealth Advisor Rockville, MD
The cause of the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Lion Air Flight 610 five months earlier is still unknown, however, the two Boeing 737 Max jets that crashed both lacked two key safety features in their cockpits. It turns out that these features were not in the airplanes because the company charged extra to install them, reports The New York Times on March 21.
Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed in Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed in Indonesia, were brand new jets but it appears as though neither were equipped with an angle of attack indicator, which determines how much the plane’s nose is tilted, or an angle of attack disagree light, which activates if the jet’s sensors are giving contradictory signals, the outlet stated. Both items were an extra optional charge. The NYT also reports that the features could have helped pilots detect errors, which might be connected to the crashes.
Although the exact cause is not yet known, both flights crashed after erratic takeoffs. Investigators are looking into whether or not a new software system added to avoid stalls in Boeing’s 737 Max series is at fault. As for the Lion Air crash, it is possible that faulty data from sensors may have caused the MCAS system to malfunction, authorities investigating that crash suspect.
For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, charging airlines to upgrade a standard plane is extremely lucrative. If you want your aircraft to have customized add-ons you must pay. Low-cost airlines like Indonesia’s Lion Air often do not buy the add ons and regulators don’t require them.
As for the features, Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at the aviation consultancy Leeham, said: “They’re critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install. Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.”
Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO, gave a statement on March 17 that it was working on making the jet safer.
“As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety,” he said in a statement
Following the crashes of the same model of jet, Boeing has said it will make one of those safety features, the disagree light, standard in order to get the grounded jets in the air again. Boeing will also be updating the MCAS software.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines that its pilots had been following FAA and Boeing guidance.
“Ethiopian Airlines pilots completed the Boeing recommended and FAA approved differences training from the B-737 NG aircraft to the B-737 MAX aircraft before the phase in of the B-737-8 MAX fleet to the Ethiopian operation and before they start flying the B-737-8 MAX,” the airline said in a statement.
“We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of the accident investigation. International regulations require all stakeholders to wait patiently for the result of the investigation,” it said.
According to a person briefed in the matter, federal prosecutors are investigating the Boeing 737 Max jet and Another person with knowledge of the matter, added that as part of the investigation, the F.B.I. is also supporting the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s inquiry, according to the NYT.
The Justice Department does not confirm or deny the existence of any investigations. Boeing has declined to comment on the inquiry.
In 2013, when Boeing marketing its 737 Max 8, an airline was expected to pay between $800,000 to $2 million for the narrow-bodied plane, depending on the different selection of features, according to a report by Jackson Square Aviation, an aircraft leasing firm in San Francisco.
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