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Boeing and FAA blasted by report for allowing doomed 737 Max to fly

Investigators have slammed both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Authority for allowing the 737 MAX to take to the skies, despite the gaping flaws in the plane’s automated flight-control system.

A damning report released Friday, conducted by a multi-agency task force of experts convened by the FAA, says Boeing failed to adequately explain to regulators its new control system prior to launch.

The experts also accuse the FAA of lacking the expertise to analyze or effectively scrutinize the information Boeing did share about the plane, according to a draft of the report seen by the New York Times.

While the outlet describes the report’s scope as ‘narrow’, the task force was able to review the certification of the 737 MAX’s automated system, known as MCAS, which had a key role in the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights in October 2018 and March this year, respectively.

Investigators have rebuked both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Authority for allowing the troublesome 737 MAX to take to the skies, despite the gaping flaws in the plane’s automated flight-control system, a damning report set to be released Friday reveals

The report, conducted by a multi-agency task force of experts convened by the FAA, says Boeing failed to adequately explain to regulators its new control system prior to two fatal crashes involving the 737 MAX, which left 346 people dead (pictured: Indonesian rescue workers help remove a section of a Lion Air Boeing 737, November 1, 2018)

The report, conducted by a multi-agency task force of experts convened by the FAA, says Boeing failed to adequately explain to regulators its new control system prior to two fatal crashes involving the 737 MAX, which left 346 people dead (pictured: Indonesian rescue workers help remove a section of a Lion Air Boeing 737, November 1, 2018)

In both of the crashes, a single damaged sensor plunged the plane into a irremediable nose dive just minutes after take-off, leaving pilots with no chance of correcting the 737 MAX’s path.

The identical incidents prompted regulators worldwide to ground the MAX – a ban still in effect today.

According to the report, the FAA had been made aware of MCAS, though ‘the information and discussions about MCAS were so fragmented and were delivered to disconnected groups’ that it ‘was difficult to recognize the impacts and implications of this system.’

Investigators say had the FAA fully understood the details of MCAS, the federal agency would’ve further scrutinized the system, which would’ve likely identified its flaws.

Since the MAX’s worldwide grounding in March, Boeing has been working on updating the MCAS system to make it less powerful, and will install the modified version of the software upon the plane’s relaunch.

The FAA’s administrator, Steve Dickson, said in a statement that he would ‘review every recommendation and take appropriate action.

‘We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide,’ Dickson continued.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Boeing Spokesperson said: ‘Safety is a core value for everyone at Boeing and the safety of the flying public, our customers, and the crews aboard our airplanes is always our top priority.  

‘Boeing is committed to working with the FAA in reviewing the recommendations and helping to continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes going forward.’

While the report’s scope is described as ‘narrow’, the task force was able to review the certification of the 737 MAX's automated system, known as MCAS, which had a key role in the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights in October 2018 and March this year, respectively

While the report’s scope is described as ‘narrow’, the task force was able to review the certification of the 737 MAX’s automated system, known as MCAS, which had a key role in the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights in October 2018 and March this year, respectively

In both of the crashes, a single damaged senor plunged the plane into a irremediable nose dive just minutes after take-off, leaving pilots with no chance of correcting the 737 MAX's path (pictued: aftermath of the Ethiopian Air crash in March, 2019)

In both of the crashes, a single damaged senor plunged the plane into a irremediable nose dive just minutes after take-off, leaving pilots with no chance of correcting the 737 MAX’s path (pictued: aftermath of the Ethiopian Air crash in March, 2019)

One of the report’s main themes is said to highlight the FAA’s over fixation on the specifics of the new system, rather than investigating and understanding its overall impact on the plane.

During the certification process of the MAX, MCAS was not evaluated as a ‘complete and integrated function’ of the aircraft.

Investigators say Boeing also failed to report alterations and updates to the MCAS system during the plane’s development stages.

An investigation conducted by the New York Times found that such tweaks made MCAS more influential and more temperamental, with key FAA officials unaware of the changes.

The manufacturer is also accused of failing to thoroughly stress-test MCAS’ design, where ‘design assumptions were not adequately reviewed, updated or validated’, as well as failing to consider the extra effort pilots needed to go through to handle MCAS, including ‘pilot recognition time and pilot reaction time to failures.’

The report found that Boeing removed mention of MCAS from a draft of its pilot manual, meaning some FAA officials were not entirely aware of MCAS and were ‘not in a position to adequately assess training needs.’

Investigators say had the FAA fully understood the details of MCAS, the federal agency would’ve further scrutinized the system, which would’ve likely identified its flaws. Since the MAX's worldwide grounding in March, Boeing has been working on updating the MCAS system to make it less powerful, and will install the modified version of the software upon the MAX's relaunch

Investigators say had the FAA fully understood the details of MCAS, the federal agency would’ve further scrutinized the system, which would’ve likely identified its flaws. Since the MAX’s worldwide grounding in March, Boeing has been working on updating the MCAS system to make it less powerful, and will install the modified version of the software upon the MAX’s relaunch

As a reform, the report suggest the FAA update its certification process to allow the agency to be more involved in the design process of new planes earlier on.

The FAA certified the MAX in 2017. According to the report, the newest addition to the 737 lineage was allowed to undergo a less thorough examination than other new planes, because of its familiarity with the 737 design.

‘Some elements of the design and certification remain rooted in the original 1967 certification of the B737-100,’ investigators noted. However while some modern safety tools were incorporated into the MAX’s design, some were left out after Boeing deemed them ‘impractical’.

In conclusion, the report found issue with the process for certifying a new plane based on a previous design, as it ‘lacks an adequate assessment of how proposed design changes integrate with existing systems,’ the Times reported.

Investigators recommended the FAA confirm the MAX’s compliance with regulations regarding the plane’s flight guidance system, flight manual and stall demonstration.

It’s claimed the FAA has already taken steps to address these recommendations, which in large has contributed to the prolonged grounding of the MAX, which is now expected to return early 2020.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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