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Ethiopian Airlines crash aftermath: Boeing to implement design changes on 737 MAX planes

Ethiopian Airlines crash aftermath: Boeing to implement design changes on 737 MAX planes

Ethiopia

More grounding, Software update and US endorsement of Boeing aircraft

As investigations into the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash continue, the questions surrounding the safety of the Boeing Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts have triggered some reactions from airlines, aviation regulators and the world’s biggest plane maker itself.

Visit our page dedicated to updates on the ET302 crash

Since Monday several airlines including from Indonesia, China, Morocco, Singapore and Ethiopia have grounded their fleets of the Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The United States aviation regulator on Monday said it would task Boeing to implement design changes by April.

The FAA said the changes will “provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

The FAA also said Boeing will “update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the design change” to an automated protection system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The changes also include MCAS activation and angle of attack signal enhancements.

The FAA said in the notice made public that external reports are drawing similarities between the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” according to the Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community for Boeing 737 MAX 8 operators.

Boeing later confirmed the directive by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), saying it will deploy a software upgrade across the 737 MAX 8 fleet “in the coming weeks”.

The company confirmed it had for several months “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer.”

In defence of Ethiopian Airlines

Several aviation experts and frequent flyers have come out strongly to defend the safety record of Ethiopian Airlines, following Sunday’s tragic crash.

At least 19 UN staff among crash victims

The United Nations has described Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passnger plane as catastrophic, after it suffered one of its biggest losses.

Michael Moller, director-general of the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, told a minute of silence, where some 150 personnel gathered:

“It is one of the biggest catastrophes we have had in years”.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in a statement on Sunday night, gave a preliminary toll of 19 people from at least five U.N. and affiliated agencies, including the IOM, among 157 victims.

Black box recovered

Investigators in Ethiopia have recovered the black box of the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

Ethiopian state television on Monday said the black box recovered is the cockpit voice recorder.

The digital flight digital recorder has also since been recovered, according to a statement from the airline.

Te Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off, killing all 157 people on board, raising questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a new model that also crashed in Indonesia in October last year.

Other Airlines ‘monitoring’ situation

Indonesia said it would monitor its airlines operating the 737 MAX 8, which include Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia but did not mention any plan to ground them.

Garuda Chief Executive Ari Ashkhara said the national carrier was operating its one 737 MAX 8 with extra inspection procedures on the airspeed and altitude, flight control and stall management systems. Lion Air declined to comment.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, whose regional arm SilkAir operates the 737 MAX 8, said it was monitoring the situation closely, but its planes would operate as scheduled.

South Korea is conducting an emergency inspection on Eastar Jet’s two 737 MAX 8 jets, a transport ministry official said. The airline could not be reached immediately for comment.

Ethiopia suspends Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleets

On Monday, Ethiopian Airlines, Cayman Airways and China’s aviation regulator all grounded their fleets of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, following Sunday’s plane crash.

In a statement posted on its official social media accounts, Ethiopian Airlines said it was grounding the 737-8 fleet until further notice, as an “extra safety precaution” even though it did not know the cause of Sunday’s crash.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said all Chinese airlines had to suspend their use of the 737 MAX 8 by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT).

The CAAC said it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure flight safety.

“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” the CAAC said, adding that the order was in line with its principle of zero-tolerance on safety hazards.

Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second of the 737 MAX 8, the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrowbody jet that first entered service in 2017.

In October, a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air crashed 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a domestic flight, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.

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