The black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 were flown to France for analysis on March 14, 2019.
The black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 were flown to France for analysis on March 14, 2019.Philippe Wojazer/REUTERS
To some extent, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing tried to address many of the issues raised in by investigators after the Lion Air crash back in November.
On November 7, 2018, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive because the flight control problem experienced on that doomed flight was “likely to exist or develop in other products” of the same aircraft.
The airworthiness directive (AD) required a revision of the Airplane Flight Manual and the Operating Procedures.
Crucially, the AD did not ground the 737 Max series aircraft.
The FAA has already faced scrutiny for its decision not to ground the aircraft earlier, and this preliminary report from Ethiopian Airlines 302 is likely to increase that scrutiny.
On November 11, 2018, Boeing issued a message to operators of the 737 Max series aircraft because it had “received many requests for the same information from 737 fleet operators” following the Lion Air crash. The message explained the automated MCAS anti-stall system, which adjusts the trim to try to avoid an imminent stall.
737 pilots who have spoken with CNN say this system was not explained during the transition training to the newer 737 Max series aircraft. Those pilots were essentially in the dark about a new system on the plane.
This message, issued after the Lion Air crash, tried to address that by offering pilots more information. But the preliminary report from the crash of Ethiopian Airlines 302 is once again likely to amplify the scrutiny Boeing is facing about the 737 Max aircraft.
It may also give some insight as to why Boeing and the FAA announced it would take additional time — a few more weeks — to get the 737 Max aircraft once again approved for service.