Boeing’s MAX 8 crisis

ONE of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers was thrown into chaos last month after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-MAX 8 plane crashed just minutes after take-off, killing all 157 people on board.

The accident, which occurred less than six months after the October 2018 fatal 737 MAX 8 crash involving Lion Air raised an alarm among the aviation community, with airlines and aviation authorities left questioning the safety of the brand-new, next-generation aircraft.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) prohibited operation of the aircraft in and out of the country following the accident, joining more than 30 nations around the world in banning the plane, including the UK, Canada and the USA.

In a blow for the aviation company, shares dropped more than 10% in the days following, with the US Federal Aviation Administration confirming it had ordered Boeing to implement “design changes” on the aircraft by April.

The regulator said Boeing was working on “flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items,” as well as updating training requirements and manuals in connection with an automated system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

As investigations continued, Boeing announced on 18 March that it had paused deliveries of the aircraft, with CEO Dennis Muilenberg penning an open letter to airlines, passengers and the aviation industry saying the company “understands and regrets the challenges to our customers and the flying public” caused by the grounding, confirming it was committed to ensuring the industry’s ongoing safety.

He added that the company would be releasing a software update and related pilot training that would address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the two incidents.