Abigail Labrie 

March 10th, 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed and killed all 157 people on board. The crash occurred after takeoff from Addis Ababa and was expected to land in Nairobi, Kenya. This airline was carrying people from all over the world, many who were from the United Nations. A similar situation occurred in October 29th, 2018 when an Air Lion flight 610 in the Java Sea of Indonesia crashed from Jakarta. All 189 people on board of this aircraft also died. This flight was only scheduled to be an hour long trip and was expected to land in Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka.  It is easy to believe that these crashes were simply due to inexperienced crews however, each plane contained staff that exceeded the minimum requirements to be flying a plane. Ethiopian Airlines’ first officer had 350 hours of flying time and the pilot in command had 8,100 hours. The captain of the Air Lion flight had more than 6,000 flight hours and his copilot logged more than 5,000 flight hours. It is required by the International Civil Aviation Organization that an agency of the United Nations recommends commercial pilots have a minimum of 150 flight hours. These two horrific crashes shared a very important similarity, both aircrafts were Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, a new model just recently revealed to the United States around two years ago. Boeings website states that the 737 Max is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history with about 5,000 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are currently around 350 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in operation around the world and belong to 54 operators. Both of these planes crashed very briefly after their takeoffs. The Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed 6 minutes after takeoff and the Air Lion plane crashed 13 minutes after takeoff. The Ethiopian Airline and Air Lion both reported problems to crew while still in the air. The Ethiopian pilot stated he was having difficulties and requested for a landing location. The flight disappeared from the radar around the same time the pilot was granted permission to return to ground. Minutes before Air Lion descended into the ocean, the crew struggled to override the plane’s automatic systems and the system pulled the nose of this plane down dozens of times. Both of the crash reports stated that the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Systems were responding to incorrect data from angle of attack sensors. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) is the automated flight software embedded within both planes. The MCAS is a fairly new feature to Boeing’s Max planes. The system that is responsible for lowering the noise of the plane when information is received from its external angle of attack sensors that notify if the aircraft is flying too slowly or too steeply and has a risk of stalling. These sensors send information to the plane’s computers regarding the nose of the plane and if its angle is relative to the airflow above and below the wings to determine if the plane is close to stalling. On March 13th, 2019, President Donald Trump announced that his administration was grounding all Max 8 and 9 models after Canada declared they were grounding the planes after new satellite tracking data. Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenberg, said that a software update and piolet training for the 737 Max will be released soon and will address concerns discovered in both the Ethiopian Airlines and Air Lion crashes.  

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