Boeing CEO Accepts Responsibility for Catastophic 737 Max Crashes That Claimed 346 Lives
Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, has admitted that the company’s own software was among the primary causes of the recent fatal 737 Max air accidents, confirming a suspicion long held by investigators.
The admission comes amid Boeing’s most serious crisis in over 100 years since it went into business.
On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted into a field a mere six minutes after takeoff, instantly killing all 157 people on board. A few months before in October 2018, 189 people died when Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 nosedived into the sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
In a video message Thursday, Muilenberg promised that a new software update would prevent similar incidents from taking place.
“It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk … We own it, and we know how to do it.”
Muilenberg also noted:
“The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports … It’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to [the] erroneous angle of attack information.”
MCAS is Boeing’s automated system that uses a nose-mounted sensor to read the angle of the plane’s trajectory. When the nose drifts too far upward, the tail is moved downward to prevent a stall. Whistleblowers and investigators have both claimed that the sensor can deliver false readings, causing the system to overcompensate and subsequently be thrown into a dive.
Muilenberg’s acknowledgement of Boeing’s culpability in the crashes comes on the same day that Ethiopian investigators released a preliminary report on the Flight 302 disaster that found that the plane’s crew “had performed all the procedures, repeatedly, provided by [Boeing], but was not able to control the aircraft.”
Despite the pilots following all safety procedures, the report named the false sensor readings as responsible for activating MCAS and causing the nose-dive. Pilots reportedly fought for the entirety of the six-minute flight to pull the plane’s nose up and regain control, to no avail.
Since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March, 737 Max jets have been grounded worldwide as international regulators and airlines seek to get to the bottom of the issue.
Last month, Boeing engineers speaking to the Seattle Times said that pilots were unaware of how to override MCAS and the company would fix the issue with the provision of “additional educational materials.” The manufacturer also had been selling critical safety features that could have prevented the crashes, including a warning light, as optional extras.
Muilenberg was emphatic that the software update would be ready to implement soon:
“This update, along with the associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of these accidents, will eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.”
However, any such update will likely face rigorous testing prior to being approved.
A report on the Lion Air crash has not yet been released, but Muilenberg has pledged to try to regain the trust of air travelers around the globe. He explained:
“We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. These tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and we extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. All of us feel the immense gravity of these events across our company and recognize the devastation of the families and friends of the loved ones who perished.”
In the meantime, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors have issued multiple subpoenas in hopes of investigating how the plane was streamlined for approval by the Federal Aviation Authority. In a 2017 conference call with a Wall Street investor, Muilenberg credited the extremely pro-business nature of the Trump administration for clearing the regulatory hurdles and certification process for the 737 Max.
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