B-737 Crash: The Tough Questions We Must Ask
March 12, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Two days after the Ethiopian Airline jet plowed into the ground shortly after takeoff, a team of experts working in collaboration is still searching for answers.
The B-737 Max 8 aircraft crashed shortly after taking off for Nairobi. Its experienced pilot who’d clocked over 8,000 flight hours issued a distress call requesting to return to Addis Ababa, saying he was experiencing difficulties with the plane---but it was too late.
The B-737 max 8 made its debut in 2017. The U.S has 74 of these jets, whereas 387 fly worldwide. 4,661 orders have been made for this model, which is considered the best selling version ever. But that doesn’t mean people won’t ask tough questions, especially after two newly delivered models crashed in a span of six months killing all onboard.
Here are the thorny questions we must ask, even as the investigative agencies work to give us answers:
1. Will Boeing Ground the Manufacture of B-737 Max 8 planes?
Some industry legislators and experts have called upon regulators to ground all Max 8s as a safety precaution, even as different airlines operating the model offer conflicting opinions on the same. Ethiopia and Indonesia have suspended using the B-737 planes.
The ill-fated plane was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November last year, and its last maintenance date was the 4th of February. The jet had clocked 1,200 hours according to the independent.
Sunday’s crash is similar to that of a Lion Air Plane that crashed in the sea off the capital of Indonesia in October last year, killing all 189 people on board.
Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general of America’s transportation agency expressed her concerns in an interview with the CNN. “The latest disaster is suspicious and rings alarm bells in the aviation industry because that doesn’t just happen. Boeing should take the lead in telling the airlines to ground the plane,” she said.
According to witness accounts, the plane was making strange rattling sounds, as smoke and debris trailed it. The plane swerved above the crash site before turning sharply and hitting the ground nose first.
The aircraft broke into pieces, with the largest among them being the wheel and a dented engine. Apart from that, one of the flight data recorders was partially damaged, but authorities said they’ll try and get data from the device.
2. Why is Boeing keen on improving the model now?
Two days after the fatal crash, Boeing issued a statement saying plans are underway to change the Boeing 737 Max 8’s training guidelines and flight controls, and also issue its software update. Does it mean the company has finally acknowledged the B-737 model has flaws that might have caused the two crashes and are they ready to be held to account?
Following the crash, on Monday morning the US Federal Aviation Administration issued an “airworthiness notification” for the B-737. But later on, it issued another statement to international carriers saying it would mandate future design changes to the aircraft from Boeing before April.
Are they saying the model is not as safe as it is now? And why are they keen to mandate forthcoming designs shortly after the crash?
3. Why did the B-737 Max 8 plane owned by the Ethiopian Airlines Crash?
The investigators have already recovered the plane’s data recorders and the black box. So, the cause of the crash should be revealed in the next 48 hours. Experts argue it’ll be quick this time around.
In the Lion Air disaster, it took authorities a month to determine the plane wasn’t airworthy a day before it crashed. It was determined that an automatic safety feature continually pulled the plane’s nose down as the pilots fought to control the aircraft.
As reported by the New York Times, one of the witnesses said the plane was hovering and there was fire on its tail. It tried lifting its nose but it went down, hitting the ground with the nose first before exploding.
Whatever the cause of the crash, people have been urged to remain calm and wait for results from the air crash investigators.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Alexandre de Juniac said the results of the investigation is needed before any conclusion is drawn.
While addressing reporters in Singapore, he said “the most serious and vigorous attitude is to check and verify and establish facts. On this issue, our permanent position is to wait for the results of the investigation to draw any conclusion.”
The Air Line Pilot Association representing over 61,000 pilots in 33 airlines worldwide share similar sentiments and warn against jumping to conclusions.
4. Who are the Victims?
So far, what is in the public domain is that all the 157 people on board the aircraft lost their lives. According to The Guardian, there were people from 35 different nationalities onboard the aircraft destined for Nairobi.
Kenya suffered the highest number of casualties as 32 Kenyans perished, 18 were Canadians, nine Ethiopians, nine from Britain, eight from China, Italy and the United States, whereas seven came from France.
Nigeria lost an ambassador, Ireland, Germany, Togo, Slovakia, Austria Russia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, America, and Italy also lost their citizens in the crash.
“The process of identifying the victims will take at least five days,” said Ethiopian Airlines spokesperson Asrat Begashaw.
Due to the impact and the ensuing fire, some remains might take weeks or months to identify as it may be done via DNA or dental records, says experts. The process is further complicated because the victims are from different countries and Ethiopia has limited forensic expertise.
Noordin Mohamed, a 27-year old Kenyan who spoke to Reuters expressed his frustration as he had no information on when he might be able to bury his mother and brother who perished in the crash.
“We are Muslim and have to bury our deceased immediately. Now we can’t even recover any bodies,” he said. Losing a mother and a brother the same day and not having their bodies to bury is very painful,” he added.
23 companies have so far ceased operating the B-737 Max 8 globally as questions continue being asked about its safety. However, the outcome of the joint investigation will offer a way forward regarding the future of the aircraft model in the aviation industry.
By Solomon O. for Ezega News