Boeing grounds 737 Max fleet after new evidence on Ethiopia crash
Information on MCAS not included in technical documents - El Mundo
American regulators changed tack on Thursday, ordering that all Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the US be grounded after investigators uncovered new evidence at the scene of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that took place on Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration took the decision after satellite tracking data revealed that the crashed jet had followed a flight path similar to that of the October disaster involving another 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia's Lion Air.
After the black box from the aircraft was sent to Paris for further analysis, it was revealed that the Sunday flight which killed all the 157 passengers on board the Ethiopian-flagged jet had “behaved very similarly to the Lion Air flight”, the FAA said.
Dan Elwell, acting administrator at the FAA, said on Wednesday “The evidence we found on the ground made it even more likely the flight path was very close to Lion Air's".
The first crash had also taken place minutes after takeoff and appeared to involve issues with the new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System software which kicks-in shortly after take-off and or the angle-of-attack sensors.
Most observers were cautioning that it was still too early to draw conclusions, but some believed that the MCAS, in combination with faulty angle-of-attack sensors on the Boeing jets were the reason behind the two crashes.
If one of two such sensors installed on each Boeing erroneously detect that the engines might be set to stall due to the angle at which the plane is flying, they automatically push the nose down.
Critically, as apparently only some pilots knew, the MCAS could be overriden manually.
According to a Norwegian Air 737 Max pilot cited by Spanish daily El Mundo, he was never trained in how the MCAS worked, nor was information on it included either in the technical documentation for the jet provided by Boeing nor in the Flight Crew Training Manual pilots are given.
The US and Brazil became the latest countries to suspend the Boeing 737 Max from flying following the UK, China, India and Australia with a total of 40 countries having done so already.
Trump told reporters: "I didn't want to take any chances. We didn't have to make this decision today," he said. "We could have delayed it. We maybe didn't have to make it at all. But I felt it was important both psychologically and in a lot of other ways."
"The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern," he added.
Dennis Muilenburg, president, chief executive and chairman of Boeing, said: "We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again."
Also on Thursday, Indonesian flag-carrier Garuda's boss, I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, said the company would pare its 737 Max orders further following the crash in Ethiopia.
And some reports were indicating that a big order for Airbus jets would be on the table when Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, met at the end of the month.