For the first time after two catastrophic incidents involving the Boeing 737MAX, Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air are preparing to resume flights using the plane.
Regulators throughout the world grounded the 737MAX due to safety concerns, but it has already been more than a year since the Federal Aviation Administration permitted the plane to fly again (FAA).
On October 29, 2018, Lion Air flight JT610 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff. The catastrophe claimed the lives of all 189 passengers and crew members onboard the two-month-old Boeing 737MAX8.
As the investigation into the Lion Air incident began, airlines continued to operate their 737MAX aircraft.
On March 10, 2019, less than six months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed just six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa International Airport. The whole 157-person crew and passengers were slain.
Within days, aviation officials, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), ordered all Boeing 737MAX jets to be grounded as investigators attempted to figure out how two brand new planes had crashed. Nearly 400 MAX aircraft were in operation with 59 airlines all over the world at the time.
Investigators subsequently established that both crashes were likely caused by a new computer system installed by Boeing during the development of the 737MAX and supposed to make the plane safer.
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was designed to improve the MAX’s pitch stability so that it feels and flies like previous 737 models.
MCAS was created by Boeing with the capacity to make multiple inputs using data from a single sensor.
A blocked ‘angle of attack’ sensor supplied false data into MCAS in both accidents. Worse yet, Boeing failed to inform pilots about the new system.
Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Airlines’ chief executive, claims that the 737MAX is now safe “beyond reasonable doubt” following major upgrades to MCAS approved by the FAA.
The airline said on Monday that the plane would resume service with the company in February 2022.
Indonesia announced on Tuesday that it had lifted its ban on 737MAX flights, which had been in place for more than three years following the catastrophic Lion Air tragedy.
The restriction will be removed immediately, according to the regulator, although Lion Air did not indicate when it expected to resume MAX flights.