More than half a year after the Boeing 737 Max was allowed to fly again by US regulators, it realized that the aircraft was again under close scrutiny.
Last month’s discovery of a potential electrical problem led to the new grounding of more than 100 planes belonging to 24 airlines around the world.
Delivery of many more new aircraft has been suspended. Boeing and the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, say they are working closely together to address this issue.
However, the incident gave new energy to critics who claimed that the 737 Max was allowed to resume service prematurely-and could have caused two fatal clashes. The issue has not been fully analyzed or addressed.
Those critics include the well-known whistleblower Ed Pearson. Ed Pearson has already attempted to correlate poor production standards at the 737 factory with electrical defects in the crashed plane.
According to Boeing and the FAA, this issue first became apparent during testing of the newly manufactured 737 Max8, which had not yet been delivered to the owner. It turned out that the power system of the aircraft was not functioning properly.
The failure was due to inadequate electrical coupling, where the panel assembly, which was also intended to conduct electricity and form part of the connection with the aircraft frame, was not functioning effectively.
This meant that some components of the airplane, such as the pilot’s main instrument panel and standby power control unit, were improperly grounded or grounded.
According to the FAA, this “can affect the operation of certain systems, including engine anti-icing, resulting in the loss of critical functionality and multiple simultaneous flight deck effects, which can prevent safe flight and continued landing. There is a possibility.
Therefore, this defect was dangerous. The FAA was worried that other aircraft already in service would be in the same condition. It issued an Airworthiness Directive on April 30, stipulating that affected aircraft should be amended before being allowed to fly again.
On the surface, nothing links these flaws to the false flight control software (known as MCAS) that caused the loss of two planes that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. ..
In each of these accidents, defective data from defective sensors caused the MCAS to repeatedly push down the nose of the aircraft as the pilot attempted to raise it, eventually resulting in a catastrophic dive. I drove in.
“This issue has nothing to do with MCAS or any other previous Max issue,” said Chris Brady, a pilot who runs a website and video channel dedicated to the technical aspects of the 737.
He says it happened in early 2019 when Boeing changed the way panels were attached to parts of the plane. The regulator was not notified because it was considered a very small change.
“There was nothing unethical about it,” he explains. “For the time being, this seems to be an honest mistake, and its impact has just been clarified.”
But for Pearson, a former senior manager on the 737 production line, the new electricity problem is a sign of a more serious problem.
At a parliamentary hearing about the crash involving Max, he claimed that in 2018 Renton’s factory near Seattle became “dysfunctional” and “chaotic,” increasing pressure to produce new aircraft as soon as possible.
Earlier this year he Publish the report It clearly linked the alleged production pressure with electrical anomalies and flight control system problems that occurred on both aircraft that crashed before the accident.
He suggested that wiring defects in both aircraft could have contributed to the misdeployment of MCAS software, along with sensor failures already associated with the crash.
He now says disclosure of new issues Reinforce his claim..
“Yes, MCAS pitched down the plane and crashed it,” he explains. “But it was a malfunction of the electrical system that caused the angle-of-attack sensor to send incorrect data to MCAS.”
Pearson believes that the 20-month recertification process that allowed the 737 Max to fly focused on software design and pilot training, but failed to address the impact of factory production standards.
As a result, it’s no wonder that new discoveries related to 737 Max production flaws continue to be revealed on aircraft that FAA administrator Steve Dixon described as “the most scrutinized transport aircraft in history.” “He says.
Pearson said he requested US Secretary of Transportation Pete Butigeg to meet to outline his concerns, but did not respond.
Boeing strongly denies the link between production standards at the 737 plant and two accidents related to the 737 Max.
“The Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents have been reviewed by many governments and regulators, and none of those reviews have found that factory production conditions contributed to the accident.”
Dai Whittingham is the Chief Executive Officer of the UK Flight Safety Committee, a group of organizations that include airlines and regulators to promote commercial aviation safety.
He says the direct link between the two accidents and the recently discovered electrical flaw is a “difficult connection to make.”
But on one important point, he seems to agree with Mr. Pearson. “These problems occur differently, but can be attributed to the same corporate culture that focuses on saving time and reducing costs rather than maintaining quality,” he explains. ..
The claim that Boeing prioritized profit over safety before the two accidents is not new, and in fact was made by prosecutors earlier this year when it announced a $ 2.5 billion settlement with an aerospace giant. ..
The company states that it has learned many lessons as a result of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 and Lion Air 610 accidents. “We have made fundamental changes,” he said. “We continue to look for ways to improve.”
“Boeing is working to restore trust, one at a time,” he said.
People in the company claim that the changes that led to the current problem were not motivated by time and cost savings.
It is not clear how long the affected aircraft will remain grounded. The actual changes required are relatively easy and are expected to cost only about $ 2,250 (£ 1,600) per aircraft. However, it is understood that the FAA is seeking a detailed analysis to ensure that it has addressed all potential concerns.
With the 737 Max being scrutinized, neither Boeing nor the FAA can afford to make a mistake.