Boeing says problem with 737 MAX warning signal slipped through the cracks

Boeing says problem with 737 MAX warning signal slipped through the cracks

1:07pm, 6th May, 2019
Boeing’s first 737 MAX 9 jet makes its appearance at the company’s Renton plant in 2017. (Boeing Photo) Boeing says a warning alert system that figures in the investigation of two catastrophic 737 MAX crashes didn’t work the way it was supposed to because of a software flaw that engineers identified a year before the accidents. The revelation adds a new twist to the debate over the company’s safety practices. In this case, the debate focuses on a feature known as the “AOA Disagree” alert, which is supposed to light up in the cockpit if there’s a mismatch in data coming from two angle-of-attack sensors on the plane. Investigators suggest that bad sensor data played a key role in October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed all 189 people aboard the plane; and March’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157. Within days of the Ethiopian crash, all 737 MAX airplanes were grounded worldwide. Boeing engineers knew about a problem with the “AOA Disagree” alert well before that. The alert was originally intended to be a standard feature on the 737 MAX and the previous generation of 737 planes, known as the 737 NG (for “Next Generation”). But in a , Boeing said that in 2017, several months after deliveries began, engineers became aware that the 737 MAX display system software didn’t meet the original requirements. “The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX and the NG. Accordingly, the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator,” Boeing said. The company said it followed standard procedure for reviewing the issue, and determined that neither the software-based angle-of-attack indicator nor the alert was necessary for safe operation of the airplane. “Accordingly, the review concluded, the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update,” Boeing said. “Senior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident.” That’s when Boeing discussed the issue with the Federal Aviation Administration. About a week after the Indonesia crash, Boeing and the FAA issued bulletins noting that both the angle-of-attack indicator and the alert system were optional. Last December, Boeing conducted a follow-up internal safety review, which confirmed the view that the absence of a warning alert did not present a safety issue. The findings of that review were shared with the FAA, Boeing said. Three months after the review, the Ethiopian crash occurred. In the wake of that crash, Boeing has said the “AOA Disagree” issue will be fixed before the 737 MAX returns to flight. “Boeing is issuing a display system software update, to implement the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature before the MAX returns to service,” the company said in its statement. “When the MAX returns to service, all MAX production aircraft will have an activated and operable AOA Disagree alert and an optional angle of attack indicator. All customers with previously delivered MAX airplanes will have the ability to activate the AOA Disagree alert.” The statement adds context to earlier reports that the angle-of-attack alert system was available only as part of an optional software package. It’s debatable whether either of the crashes could have been avoided if the alert was available as a standard feature on the planes involved. In the Ethiopian case, the investigation suggests that the pilots knew about the issue surrounding the angle-of-attack sensors and their effect on the 737 MAX’s automatic flight control system — but were nevertheless unable to pull the plane out of its final dive. In any case, the questions surrounding what Boeing engineers knew and when they knew it seem sure to figure in the multiple investigations sparked by the crashes. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., told KOMO News that the FAA’s actions before and after the crashes will also be examined during a May 15 hearing before the House Subcommittee on Aviation, which he chairs. ”We need to first find answers to ensure the safety of the airplane, to ensure the FAA is doing the right thing, that Boeing is doing the right thing, and that’ll be our focus,” Larsen told KOMO on Saturday, a day before Boeing issued its statement.
Boeing CEO rebuffs the idea of resigning amid debate over 737 MAX’s fitness to fly

Boeing CEO rebuffs the idea of resigning amid debate over 737 MAX’s fitness to fly

4:12pm, 29th April, 2019
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg takes questions at a news conference in Chicago. (AP via YouTube) Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stuck to his positions on the safety of the 737 MAX airplane today during a contentious annual shareholders’ meeting and news conference in Chicago. Muilenburg took questions in a face-to-face public forum for the first time since last month’s due to concerns raised by two catastrophically fatal crashes last October and this March. At one point, a reporter asked Muilenburg whether he’d resign. “My clear intent is to continue to lead on the front of safety and quality and integrity,” he replied. “That’s who we are as a company.” Muilenburg said that he’s been talking with factory workers in Renton, Wash., and with Boeing test pilots over the past few weeks. “To the core of our people, they care about this business and the safety of our airplanes,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on.” Investigations into October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia, and March’s Ethiopian Airlines crash in Ethiopia, have focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system was designed to replicate the operating conditions of previous-generation 737 planes on the 737 MAX, which is equipped with bigger jet engine. But preliminary findings suggested that during each fatal flight, spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor repeatedly forced the plane into a steep dive. Boeing had laid out procedures to regain control, but in the two tragedies, the procedures either weren’t followed to the letter or didn’t work. Muilenburg resisted characterizing the MCAS issue as a design flaw or a mistake. Instead, he said the issue was a “link in the chain” that will be broken thanks to a software update that’s being tested for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies around the world. The process by which the 737 MAX was originally certified for flight in 2017 is currently under investigation by an internal Boeing team and the FAA, as well as by the Justice Department and the FBI. Muilenburg insisted that MCAS system “was designed per our standards” and followed proper certification procedures. “We haven’t seen a technical slip or gap in terms of the fundamental design and certification of the approach,” Muilenburg told reporters. “That said, we know this is a link in both accidents that we can break. That’s a software update that we know how to do. We own it, and we will make that update, and this will make the airplane even safer going forward.” During today’s meeting, Boeing shareholders voted down a proposal to remake the company’s chairmanship as an independent position that would rule out Muilenburg’s dual role as CEO and chairman. Relatives of some of the victims of the 737 MAX crashes traveled to Chicago to take part in a news conference aimed at drawing attention to lawsuits being filed against Boeing. One of the speakers was Manant Vaidya, a Canadian of Indian descent who lost six family members in the Ethiopia crash. Vaidya was sharply critical of Muilenburg’s comments. “He said that all design and certifications were followed. At the end of day, if all certifications were done, how could the crash still have occurred?” he said. “I am completely lost right now. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the world.” Over the weekend, a number of media outlets reported that some 737 MAX planes didn’t have an indicator known as a “disagree alert,” which might have given pilots an early indication that an angle-of-attack sensor was feeding bad data to the MCAS system. Today, Boeing : “Boeing included the disagree alert as a standard feature on the MAX, although this alert has not been considered a safety feature on airplanes and is not necessary for the safe operation of the airplane. Boeing did not intentionally or otherwise deactivate the disagree alert on its MAX airplanes. “The disagree alert was intended to be a standard, stand-alone feature on MAX airplanes. However, the disagree alert was not operable on all airplanes because the feature was not activated as intended. “The disagree alert was tied or linked into the angle of attack indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX. Unless an airline opted for the angle of attack indicator, the disagree alert was not operable. [The angle-of-attack indicator is a software-based information feature that’s distinct from the angle-of-attack sensor hardware. For more on the distinction, .] “On every airplane delivered to our customers, including the MAX, all flight data and information needed to safely operate the aircraft is provided in the flight deck and on the flight deck display. This information is readily accessible to pilots, and it always has been. “The air speed, attitude, and altitude displays, together with the stick shaker, are the primary flight information indicators in the flight deck. All recommended pilot actions, checklists, and training are based upon these primary indicators, not on the AOA disagree alert or the angle of attack indicator. “As the MAX safely returns to the air after the software modifications are approved and certified, all MAX production aircraft will have an activated and operable disagree alert and an optional angle of attack indicator. All customers with previously delivered MAX airplanes will have the ability to activate the disagree alert per a service bulletin to airlines. “We are confident that when the MAX returns to the skies, it will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.” For what it’s worth, Boeing’s shares finished the trading day down 0.46%, at $379.05.
Pentagon ethics probe clears acting defense chief after claims of Boeing bias

Pentagon ethics probe clears acting defense chief after claims of Boeing bias

5:51pm, 25th April, 2019
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at an event presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Department of Defense Photo) The Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General says acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is in full compliance with his ethics agreements and official obligations — turning back allegations that he took actions to promote Boeing, his former employer, and disparage its competitors. The findings of a weeks-long investigation, issued today, seem likely to clear what might have been an obstacle standing in the way of Shanahan taking on the Pentagon’s post on a permanent basis. Shanahan, who spent much of his 31 years at Boeing managing commercial airplane programs, won Senate confirmation to become assistant defense secretary in 2017 and after James Mattis’ departure at the end of last year. When Shanahan came to the Pentagon, he pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving Boeing. But in January, as saying that he repeatedly praised Boeing and trashed Lockheed Martin during high-level internal meetings. One former official quoted him as describing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter program as “f—ed up” and complaining that the company “doesn’t know how to run a program.” Such reports led the inspector general’s office to . The office said investigators interviewed Shanahan and 33 witnesses, and reviewed more than 5,600 pages of unclassified documents as well as about 1,700 pages of classified documents related to the allegations and the relevant weapons systems. In the resulting , investigators said Shanahan’s criticism of the F-35 program didn’t appear to violate his ethics agreements: “Specifically, with regard to the alleged comments about the aircraft made by Boeing and its competitors, we concluded that Mr. Shanahan did not “repeatedly dump” on the F-35 aircraft in meetings. Rather, we determined that Mr. Shanahan’s comments related to the F-35 program and its performance, and were consistent with other comments about problems in the F-35 program made by other senior DoD officials.” The report said that some witnesses recalled hearing Shanahan refer to his experience with commercial aircraft programs during discussions about driving costs down and improving performance, but that the witnesses didn’t take such comments as promoting Boeing. “In my experience, he’s been very careful not to say something like, ‘At Boeing we would do it this way,’ ” Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted as saying in his testimony. “What he would do is say, ‘In commercial industrial engineering processes or system design processes, here are the things I have learned.’ ” The report also delved into the mechanics of meetings that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Shanahan conducted with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in December 2018, after SpaceX’s proposal for a launch services contract was turned down. Wilson thought Shanahan should have avoided meeting with Musk, because (by virtue of Boeing’s partnership with Lockheed Martin in United Launch Alliance). Other Pentagon officials, however, told Shanahan that he could meet with Musk as long as the contract wasn’t discussed. Here’s what the report had to say about Shanahan’s hourlong meeting with Musk on Dec. 6, 2018: “A member of Mr. Shanahan’s staff attended and summarized the meeting in a memorandum for the record (MFR). According to the MFR, Mr. Musk discussed increased competition from China, his plans to self-fund and launch communication satellites, and his production experience at Tesla. Mr. Musk also noted that SpaceX was not successful in the recent Air Force competition for a launch service contract and that SpaceX had written a poor proposal that ‘missed the mark.’ According to the MFR, Mr. Shanahan did not comment on the bid competition. “Mr. Shanahan told us that he met with Mr. Musk because he ‘thought it would be interesting to talk to him about his views of the future.’ Mr. Shanahan told us that Mr. Musk discussed his view on ‘electrification and autonomy,’ and how he saw ‘that space evolving here in the next 5 years because we have some really critical decisions to make in terms of our logistics system in the Army and the combat vehicles.’ ” The inspector general’s office said the meeting didn’t violate Shanahan’s ethical obligations. Shanahan’s spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, said that the acting secretary refers any matters relating to Boeing to other Pentagon officials “and ensures no potential for a conflict of interest with Boeing on any matter.” Shanahan himself didn’t issue a statement relating to the report. Instead, he issued a family-friendly tweet relating to “Take Your Kids to Work Day.” Great to have our families together here at the Pentagon for ! Our families are the core of the Department and the heart of defense for our freedoms and American way of life. Military service is a family affair! — Acting SecDef Pat Shanahan (@ActingSecDef) Shanahan has been in charge of the Pentagon in an acting capacity, but he would have to be nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate to take on the defense secretary’s position on a formal basis.
Boeing estimates cost of 737 MAX troubles at a billion dollars and counting

Boeing estimates cost of 737 MAX troubles at a billion dollars and counting

5:05pm, 24th April, 2019
Boeing’s first 737 MAX makes its way through the assembly plant in Renton, Wash., in 2015. (Boeing Photo) Boeing’s first-quarter financial stats took a serious hit in the wake of two fatal crashes involving its bestselling plane, the 737 MAX. The company estimated the additional costs associated with grounding the 737 MAX fleet at $1 billion, but more uncertainty lies ahead. Boeing executives held off on providing updated financial guidance until the impact of the 737 MAX issue becomes clearer. Revenue: Boeing reported first-quarter revenue of $22.9 billion, which is 2 percent below the year-ago figure but in line with analysts’ expectations. The shortfall is due primarily to fewer deliveries of 737 jets. Earnings: Net earnings for the quarter amounted to $2.15 billion, which translates to adjusted earnings per share of $3.16. That’s 13 percent below what they were a year ago but from Zacks Investment Research. Word from the top: “Across the company, we are focused on safety, returning the 737 MAX to service, and earning and re-earning the trust and confidence of customers, regulators and the flying public,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in the company’s . “As we work through this challenging time for our customers, stakeholders and the company, our attention remains on driving excellence in quality and performance and running a healthy sustained growth business built on strong, long-term fundamentals.” Word on the Street: Boeing’s share price rose 0.36 percent to close at $375.46, apparently reflecting investor relief that the quarterly results weren’t worse. The stock’s value has fallen about 8.5 percent since the beginning of March, just before the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX. Quarter highlights Boeing said the $1 billion in additional costs comes primarily from reducing the 737 production rate from 52 to 42 airplanes a month, a move that spreads fixed costs over a smaller number of planes. That toll could rise if the uncertainty surrounding the 737 MAX’s fate continues into the long term. Muilenburg said Boeing is making “steady process on the path to final certification for a software update for the 737 MAX.” That update is meant to address problems with an automatic flight control system that has been linked to the Ethiopia crash as well as last October’s fatal crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia. Muilenburg said the fix has been tested on more than 135 flights but didn’t give a timetable for winning certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. This week as saying certification could come as early as late May, potentially leading to a return to flight in mid-June. The process that led to the 737 MAX’s certification in 2017 is the subject of multiple investigations, including inquiries by the FAA, the Justice Department and the FBI, and a panel of experts convened by Boeing. But Muilenburg said “there was no surprise, or gap, or unknown here, or something that somehow slipped through a certification process.” Because of the focus on the 737 MAX situation, Muilenburg said Boeing hasn’t yet decided whether to go ahead with plans for a next-generation midsize airplane known as the New Mid-Market Airplane, the NMA or 797. But 777X production is moving ahead as planned, with the model’s first flight expected within months and the first 777X delivery due next year. Boeing Global Services, which was broken out as a separate business unit in 2017, brought in glowing financial results. First-quarter revenue increased 17 percent over the year-ago figure, to $4.6 billion. Boeing said the increase was driven primarily by higher volume across the portfolio, including , an aerospace parts distributor. Boeing Defense, Space & Security also served as a bright spot in the quarterly report: Revenues for that business unit amounted to $6.6 billion, which represents a 2 percent increase over the previous year’s first-quarter figures. The first seven KC-46 tankers were during the quarter — a milestone dimmed only slightly by . Boeing said its CST-100 Starliner space taxi has gone through “successful environmental testing,” calls for an uncrewed Starliner to make its first demonstration flight to the International Space Station for NASA no earlier than August, with the first crewed flight to follow by as early as late 2019.
JetSuiteX to launch $99 flights between Oakland and Seattle’s Boeing Field in July

JetSuiteX to launch $99 flights between Oakland and Seattle’s Boeing Field in July

4:49pm, 23rd April, 2019
JetSuiteX flies out of private air terminals on Embraer 135 aircraft. (JetSuiteX via PRNewsfoto) says it’s starting air service between Seattle’s Boeing Field and Oakland International Airport in July, with flights that combine the convenience of private jets with the pricing of commercial airlines. Up to three round-trip flights a day will be offered starting on July 1, at prices that range as low as $99 one-way. The expanded service will put JetSuiteX, a California-based airline that has a code-sharing partnership with JetBlue, in competition with Alaska Airlines, Spirit, Delta, American and Southwest. (JetBlue also offers SEA-OAK flights.) Even $99 isn’t as cheap as Alaska’s lowest fares for flights between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Oakland, which can go as low as $69 one-way, But JetSuiteX is banking on the benefit of avoiding travel delays between Seattle’s urban core and Sea-Tac, as well as the security-line congestion that travelers often face once they get to Sea-Tac. “Travelers between Seattle and the Bay Area can now shave valuable time off the trip by flying from the conveniently located Boeing Field while experiencing JetSuiteX’s unparalleled efficiency and customer service,” Alex Wilcox, co-founder and CEO of JetSuiteX, . JetSuiteX says its passengers can show up at an airport’s private terminal 20 minutes before their flight, avoid long lines and bring free luggage along for the ride. The airline uses 30-seat Embraer 135 aircraft to handle 330 weekly scheduled flights. In addition to Oakland and Boeing Field, daily destinations include Burbank, Orange County and Concord in California, plus Las Vegas. There’s seasonal service to Mammoth Lakes and Coachella Valley. Aircraft can also be chartered for group trips. JetSuiteX’s sister charter airline, JetSuite, is produced by Bothell, Wash.-based in the early 2020s. For what it’s worth, Zunum’s financial backers include JetBlue Technology Ventures as well as Boeing HorizonX Ventures.
Donald Trump, whose airline fizzled out, gives 737 MAX marketing advice to Boeing

Donald Trump, whose airline fizzled out, gives 737 MAX marketing advice to Boeing

5:29pm, 15th April, 2019
A photographer takes a picture of the first Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet during its assembly at the company’s Renton plant in 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) In addition to praising Tiger Woods and pillorying Democrats, President Donald Trump had some words of advice on Twitter for Boeing, which is dealing with federal investigations in the wake of two catastrophic 737 MAX crashes. “What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President),” , “but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name. No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?” What, indeed? In 1988, Trump acquired 17 Boeing 727s and landing rights at airports in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., from Eastern Air Lines’ shuttle operation. He added some additional features to the plane and rebranded the operation as the Trump turned the no-frills service into a luxury experience, right down to the gold-colored bathroom fixtures — but . Trump Shuttle fizzled out in 1992, in a haze of loan defaults, bank negotiations and acquisitions. The operational descendant of Trump’s airline is the American Airlines Shuttle, which no longer uses 727s. Instead, the service uses a mix of Embraer 175 and 190 jets, Airbus A319-100s and Boeing 737-800s. Those 737s come from the previous generation of Boeing’s 51-year-old 737 brand, and don’t have the MCAS automatic flight control system that’s been linked to the 737 MAX’s troubles. Boeing didn’t respond to Trump’s suggestions on Twitter, but there were plenty of wags who joked that he’d probably go for rebranding the plane as the 737 MAX planes have been grounded worldwide due to concerns surrounding the two fatal crashes, which occurred in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia last month. Boeing has developed a software update that it says will head off any further problems related to the MCAS system, but regulators haven’t yet approved the update. Thus, the timing for getting hundreds of 737 MAX airplanes back up in the air is … up in the air. Over the weekend, American Airlines said it would extend its cancellations of 737 MAX flights through Aug. 19. “By extending our cancellations through the summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season and provide confidence to our customers and team members when it comes to their travel plans,” American Airlines’ executives explained . Meanwhile, Boeing, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Justice Department (in league with the FBI) are all conducting investigations into the 737 MAX certification process. And 737 MAX fuselages as well as finished planes are stacking up at sites ranging from Seattle’s Boeing Field to Wenatchee in central Washington state. They are quickly running out of room to store 's at — Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) They are quickly running out of room to store 's at Boeing Field as well. They will need to start sending them to either MWH or VCV for storage eventually. — Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) Looks like Wenatchee has begun collecting (?) fuselages. There were 5 sitting here all week; the other two arrived over the weekend. — Maria Langer
Boeing cuts back temporarily on 737 MAX production and plans to review design process

Boeing cuts back temporarily on 737 MAX production and plans to review design process

3:40pm, 5th April, 2019
The first 737 MAX 8 plane undergoes final assembly at Boeing’s Renton plant in 2015. (Boeing Photo) Boeing will reduce its monthly production rate for its single-aisle 737 jets from 52 to 42, starting in mid-April, CEO Dennis Muilenburg said today. In a statement, Muilenburg said he’s also asked the company’s board of directors to establish an internal committee to review Boeing’s policies and processes for airplane design and development. The moves come in the wake of this week’s preliminary findings from an investigation into the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 plane that killed all 157 people on board. Less than five months earlier, a similar Lion Air 737 MAX crash in Indonesia killed 189 people. Those two incidents led to a worldwide suspension in 737 MAX flights. Both crashes were traced to the improper activation of an automated flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system, which was added to the 737 MAX to safeguard against stalls, relied on data inputs from a single angle-of-attack sensor — and in both cases, there were indications that the sensor was providing spurious data. The MCAS problems have in turn raised questions about the process by which the 737 MAX, the latest incarnation of a 51-year-old narrowbody design, was . The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Justice Department are conducting separate investigations into that process, which has also been the subject of congressional hearings. Boeing manufactures its 737 MAX 8 and 9 planes — as well as an earlier model known as the 737NG — at its plant in Renton, Wash. Muilenburg said the temporary reduction in the production rate would not affect employment levels. At one time, Boeing had planned to by the end of this year. Here’s : “As we work closely with customers and global regulators to return the 737 MAX to service, we continue to be driven by our enduring values, with a focus on safety, integrity and quality in all we do. “We now know that the recent Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents were caused by a chain of events, with a common chain link being erroneous activation of the aircraft’s MCAS function. We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it. As part of this effort, we’re making progress on the 737 MAX software update that will prevent accidents like these from ever happening again. Teams are working tirelessly, advancing and testing the software, conducting non-advocate reviews, and engaging regulators and customers worldwide as we proceed to final certification. I recently had the opportunity to experience the software update performing safely in action during a 737 MAX 7 demo flight. We’re also finalizing new pilot training courses and supplementary educational material for our global MAX customers. This progress is the result of our comprehensive, disciplined approach and taking the time necessary to get it right. “As we continue to work through these steps, we’re adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in MAX deliveries, allowing us to prioritize additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the MAX to flight. We have decided to temporarily move from a production rate of 52 airplanes per month to 42 airplanes per month starting in mid-April. “At a production rate of 42 airplanes per month, the 737 program and related production teams will maintain their current employment levels while we continue to invest in the broader health and quality of our production system and supply chain. “We are coordinating closely with our customers as we work through plans to mitigate the impact of this adjustment. We will also work directly with our suppliers on their production plans to minimize operational disruption and financial impact of the production rate change. “In light of our commitment to continuous improvement and our determination to always make a safe industry even safer, I’ve asked the Boeing Board of Directors to establish a committee to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of the airplanes we build. The committee will confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes for assuring the highest level of safety on the 737-MAX program, as well as our other airplane programs, and recommend improvements to our policies and procedures. “The committee members will be Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., (Ret.), former vice chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will serve as the committee’s chair; Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, Inc.; Lynn J. Good, chairman, president and CEO of the Duke Energy Corporation; and Edward M. Liddy, former chairman and CEO of the Allstate Corporation, all members of the company’s board. These individuals have been selected to serve on this committee because of their collective and extensive experiences that include leadership roles in corporate, regulated industries and government entities where safety and the safety of lives is paramount. “Safety is our responsibility, and we own it. When the MAX returns to the skies, we’ve promised our airline customers and their passengers and crews that it will be as safe as any airplane ever to fly. Our continued disciplined approach is the right decision for our employees, customers, supplier partners and other stakeholders as we work with global regulators and customers to return the 737 MAX fleet to service and deliver on our commitments to all of our stakeholders.”
Boeing vows to take all necessary safety steps after Ethiopia issues preliminary 737 MAX crash report

Boeing vows to take all necessary safety steps after Ethiopia issues preliminary 737 MAX crash report

6:00pm, 4th April, 2019
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg sits behind pilots during a 737 MAX airplane flight that demonstrated the performance of a flight control software update. (Boeing Photo) Boeing executives said today that they would take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the company’s 737 MAX airplanes, after issued a saying that an Ethiopian Airlines jet was felled last month due to the same sensor problem that caused a fatal crash in Indonesia less than five months earlier. The Ethiopian crash and last October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia killed a total of 346 people and led to the worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes. Like investigators in Indonesia, the Ethiopian investigators said an automated flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, forced the plane into a catastrophic dive. Boeing’s software-based MCAS system was added to the 737 MAX as a safeguard against stalling, but in both cases, investigators said a faulty sensor fed bad data into the system. The preliminary report on the Ethiopian crash, issued today, said the pilots tried Boeing’s recommended procedure for overriding the MCAS system but still failed to regain control of the plane. , Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was apparent that the MCAS system added to what is already a high workload environment. “It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk,” he said. “We own it, and we know how to do it.” We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 accidents and are relentlessly focused on safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again. Watch the full video here: — Dennis A. Muilenburg (@BoeingCEO) Muilenburg said Boeing has nearly completed work on a software update that would “prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.” He expected the fix to be certified and implemented throughout the 737 MAX fleet in the weeks ahead. , Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister said the company would “carefully review” the preliminary report from Ethiopian investigators, “and will take any and all additional steps necessary to enhance the safety of our aircraft.” Ethiopian Airlines and investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration reacted to the day’s developments on Twitter: |n Airlines Statement on the Preliminary Report of the Accident on ET 302 — Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) NTSB statement: The preliminary report issued Thursday April 4, 2019, by the Ethiopia Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau presents the initial information developed during their investigation of the crash of flight 302. NTSB investigators and technical advisers reviewed… — NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) … the draft preliminary report and provided input. The NTSB, FAA and Boeing have had access to the Flight Data Recorder data since it was downloaded, and investigators and technical advisers continue to analyze the data in coordination with Ethiopian authorities. — NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) Correction: statement on the investigation by the authorities. — The FAA (@FAANews)
Hearings on Boeing 737 MAX crashes focus on certification and pilot training

Hearings on Boeing 737 MAX crashes focus on certification and pilot training

7:11pm, 27th March, 2019
Acting FAA chief Daniel Elwell, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, face a Senate panel during a hearing on airline safety. (C-SPAN Photo) Were airline pilots adequately trained on a catastrophic scenario involving the automatic flight control system for Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes? And did the Federal Aviation Administration cede too much of its responsibility to Boeing when the system was certified as safe? Those are among the key questions that U.S. senators had for federal officials today during a pair of Capitol Hill hearings today. Meanwhile, Boeing brought about 200 pilots and airline industry officials to Renton, Wash., the base of operations for the company’s 737 program, to learn more about the changes being made in the wake of two fatal MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. October’s killed all 189 people aboard, while this month’s killed 157. In both cases, investigators have focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The MCAS software system was added to the 737 MAX, the latest version of the 51-year-old 737 line, to compensate for the aerodynamic effects of a larger engine and guard against stalling. But preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation suggest that spurious data from a single angle-of-attack sensor forced the MCAS to push the plane repeatedly into a nose dive. Investigators suspect the same scenario in the Ethiopia crash. Even before that crash, Boeing was working on a software update to address the bad-data scenario. At a Renton news conference, Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy and development, confirmed that the update would have the MCAS come into play only if both angle-of-attack sensors detected indications of a stall. The system would be activated only once, rather than repeatedly, and could more easily be counteracted manually by the pilot, . Tests of the software changes were on the agenda for this week’s Renton gathering. All 737 MAX planes are grounded worldwide due to concerns about the crash, resulting in continuing disruption and costs for airlines. But once the FAA and its counterparts in other countries give the go-ahead, the software update could theoretically be distributed in a matter of days. Sinnett also said pilots would receive half an hour of computer-based training on the MCAS software changes, but that no additional training in a flight simulator would be required. He said the training plan has been “provisionally approved” by the FAA. The training issue came up repeatedly today at a congressional hearing organized by the Senate Commerce Committee’s panel on aviation and space. Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell told senators that he didn’t believe the MCAS system was specifically addressed in flight simulation training. He said regulators initially agreed with Boeing’s analysis that the system made “no marked difference in the handling characteristics” of the 737. But in light of the fatal crashes, Elwell said training procedures are “an area that we will look into very, very carefully.” At an earlier hearing, organized by the Senate appropriations subcommittee focusing on the Transportation Department and other agencies, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao faced tough questions about regulatory oversight, or the potential lack thereof. During the certification process for the 737 MAX, Boeing drew up its own safety analysis of the changes made from the design for the previous 737 model. In an , The Seattle Times quoted unnamed sources as saying that the analysis downplayed risks associated with the MCAS system. One former FAA engineer said the agency’s review of Boeing’s analysis was “rushed to reach [a] certain certification date.” When Chao was asked about the relationship between Boeing and the FAA during certification, she insisted that the FAA was in charge of the process. “The FAA does not build planes. They certify. But this method of having the manufacturer also be involved in looking at these standards is really necessary, because … the FAA cannot do it on their own,” she said. “Having said that, I am of course concerned about any allegations of coziness.” Chao emphasized that safety is her department’s top concern, and noted that additional steps were being taken to respond to issues raised in the aftermath of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Last week, Chao asked the of the certification process for the 737 MAX, and that investigation is getting under way. This week, to suggest improvements in the FAA’s oversight and certification process. During this afternoon’s hearing, Elwell said the cooperative approach to aircraft certification was deeply ingrained in FAA procedures. If the agency were to do the job without delegating duties to manufacturers,, he said.
Report: Optional safety features for Boeing 737 MAX jets will be offered for free

Report: Optional safety features for Boeing 737 MAX jets will be offered for free

1:02pm, 25th March, 2019
Boeing employees surround the 10,000th 737 jet — a 737 MAX 8 built for Southwest Airlines — during a ceremony in Renton, Wash., in March 2018. (Boeing Photo) Two optional safety features that might help pilots head off a scenario that’s at the heart of investigations into two catastrophic crashes of Boeing 737 MAX jets will be available free of charge on new airplanes, . The features are an indicator that shows pilots the readings from two sensors that monitor an aerodynamic characteristic known as the angle of attack, and a “disagree light” that flashes when those sensor readings are at odds with each other. Spurious data from the angle-of-attack sensors are thought to have played a role in last October’s crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 plane in Indonesia, which killed 189 people on board; and this month’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-8 in Ethiopia, which killed 157. The current leading theory is that in both cases, bad data from a single sensor caused an automatic flight control system — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS — to kick in repeatedly. MCAS was added to the 737 MAX’s control system to compensate for the aerodynamic effect of the model’s bigger engines and guard against an excessive upward lift and stall. But investigators suspect that, in the fatal crashes, the system forced the plane into a nose dive. In both cases, pilots complained about control problems minutes into their doomed flights. Today as saying he believed the MCAS system was activated on the Ethiopian jetliner, based on what he has learned about the investigation. Boeing says pilots can use a procedure to disengage the MCAS system in the event of a problem, but the procedure apparently did not come into play in the Lion Air or Ethiopian Airlines scenarios. Over the weekend, Boeing brought pilots and trainers to its 737 MAX facility in Renton, Wash., to discuss potential safety modifications to the plane and test out simulations of an MCAS problem scenario. The New York Times quoted sources as saying that pilots using the simulators were able to land their virtual planes safely. About 200 pilots, technical leaders and regulators are due to attend another session on Wednesday. “This is part of our ongoing effort to share more details about our plan for supporting the safe return of the 737 MAX to commercial service,” Boeing said in a statement. “We had a productive session this past Saturday and plan to reach all current and many future MAX operators and their home regulators.” Boeing is preparing to release a software update and revised training guidelines aimed at addressing the MCAS issue. Reportedly, one of the changes will involve having the MCAS system take in data from both angle-of-attack sensors instead of just one. Another change would reportedly limit the system’s ability to kick in repeatedly. The Journal said the changes . The debate over the 737 MAX safety features has touched on the plane’s hardware: Last week, The New York Times reported that the angle-of-attack indicator and the disagree light were optional features that operators had to pay extra for. But on Sunday, the Times said the disagree light would become standard on all new 737 MAX planes, and the indicator would be provided free of charge for customers who want it.
Acting Pentagon chief is facing an ethics investigation over charges of Boeing bias

Acting Pentagon chief is facing an ethics investigation over charges of Boeing bias

8:07pm, 20th March, 2019
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at an event presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Department of Defense Photo) Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was a veteran Boeing executive before going to the Pentagon, is facing an ethics investigation amid complaints that he has been talking up his former employer and disparaging Boeing’s competitors. The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General today acknowledged that it was looking into the complaints about actions that were “allegedly in violation of ethics rules.” Shanahan, who spent much of his 31 years at Boeing managing commercial airplane programs, won Senate confirmation to become assistant defense secretary in 2017 and after James Mattis’ departure at the end of last year. When Shanahan came to the Pentagon, he pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving Boeing. But in January, as saying that he repeatedly praised Boeing and trashed Lockheed Martin during high-level internal meetings. One former official quoted him as describing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter program as “f—ed up” and complaining that the company “doesn’t know how to run a program.” In late January, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asking Shanahan to respond to the reports, and this month the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington . In statements sent to news media today, the inspector general’s office said it would follow through with an investigation into the allegations. The office noted that just last week, Shanahan he’d support an investigation. , Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, as saying that the acting secretary “has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD.” Warren, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign last month, welcomed news of the investigation. “The American people should be able to trust that government officials are working for them – not for big defense contractors,” .
Transportation Department plans to audit certification process for Boeing 737 MAX

Transportation Department plans to audit certification process for Boeing 737 MAX

7:21pm, 19th March, 2019
The first 737 MAX 8 plane undergoes final assembly at Boeing’s Renton plant in 2015. (Boeing Photo) In the wake of two catastrophic crashes that may have had a common cause, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao today opened the way for an audit of the process that led the Federal Aviation Administration to certify Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 jets in 2017. Because of the similarities between the two crashes, 737 MAX jets have been grounded worldwide. Boeing and the FAA are reportedly facing multiple investigations, including the audit announced today. Chao formally requested the audit in a referral memo to the department’s Office of Inspector General. The audit is meant to “help inform the department’s decision making and the public’s understanding, and to assist the FAA in ensuring that its safety procedures are implemented effectively,” Chao wrote. It will be part of a continuing review of factors related to aviation certification, she said. In a tweet, Boeing said it would “fully cooperate” with the audit. The audit is likely to address claims that the FAA put too much reliance on Boeing’s own analysis if safety issues surrounding the 737 MAX during its years-long development. The MAX is the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse single-aisle passenger airplane, with engines that are larger and more fuel-efficient than the previous-generation 737. The heft of the engines changed the aerodynamic characteristics of the 737. To minimize the need for pilot retraining, Boeing developed an automatic control system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS, which was designed to keep the plane from stalling if it encountered extreme conditions. Investigators say the MCAS appears to have played a role in last October’s crash of a nearly new Lion Air 737 MAX 8 jet in Indonesia, which killed 189 people. And preliminary reports suggest that an Ethiopian Airlines 737-8 traced a similar flight profile before it crashed on March 10 in Ethiopia, killing 157. In both cases, pilots reported flight control problems just minutes after takeoff, and soon afterward, each plane went into a catastrophic nose dive. In the Lion Air case, investigators surmise that the MCAS system received spurious data from a single sensor that monitored the wings’ angle of attack. Boeing says pilots can follow a procedure to disengage the MCAS in the event of a malfunction, but the Lion Air pilots didn’t follow that procedure. This week, reports emerged that readings extracted from the flight data recorder on the Ethiopian plane pointed to a similar angle-of-attack issue. Also this week, reports in and the raised questions about the procedures that the FAA and Boeing followed during development of the 737 MAX. To expedite that development effort, Boeing conducted its own safety analysis for the MAX and submitted it to the FAA. The Seattle Times quoted sources as saying that the initial analysis downplayed the scope and persistence of the MCAS system, as well as the need for additional pilot training. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former FAA safety engineer said there was “constant pressure” to review Boeing’s documents quickly. The Wall Street Journal said the Transportation Department will look into whether unwarranted shortcuts were taken during the certification process. A separate grand jury investigation was being directed by the Justice Department, the Journal reported, and congressional hearings are a near-certainty. Boeing says it will soon roll out a software update for the 737 MAX that limits operation of the MCAS, and issue new guidance for pilot training as well. But the fact that multiple investigations are in the works suggests that the software fix won’t immediately fix Boeing’s image problem. Even if the FAA clears the 737 MAX for flight, regulators in Canada and other countries outside the U.S. say they won’t take the FAA’s word but . Air Canada said it plans to . Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., whose district includes the Boeing plant in Renton where the 737 MAX is built, said today that he worries about the plane’s reliance on automatic control systems like the MCAS. “It’s like when you call information, it’s great to have all these different menus, but you always want to be able to press zero and talk to a human,” Smith said during an appearance at a quantum computing summit at the University of Washington. “When you’re setting up these machines, all else fails, you’ve got to be able to push a button and just operate the damn thing.”
FAA grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing ‘new evidence’ from Ethiopia crash site

FAA grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing ‘new evidence’ from Ethiopia crash site

2:51pm, 13th March, 2019
An artist’s conception shows a Southwest Airlines 737 MAX taking to the air. (Boeing Illustration) The Federal Aviation Administration today ordered the temporary grounding of Boeing’s next-generation 737 MAX jets, due to “new evidence” collected at the site of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash as well as satellite data. “The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorder,” the FAA : statement on the temporary grounding of 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in a U.S. territory. — The FAA (@FAANews) Southwest Airlines operates , American Airlines has 24 MAX 8’s and United Airlines has 14 MAX 9’s, accounting for nearly 300 daily flights in all. Today’s announcement, which affects all 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S territory, came after scores of other nations took similar measures. The move was signaled in advance by President Donald Trump, and came just hours after Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said 737 MAX planes would be barred from arrivals, departures and overflights in Canada. Garneau said satellite data suggested there were similarities between the flight profiles for the 737 MAX 8 involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on Sunday and a , killing 189 people. In both cases, the pilots reported control difficulties just after takeoff, and the planes nose-dived shortly afterward. Garneau said the satellite readings were not conclusive, and he shied away from saying definitively that the crashes were related. “But it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” he said. Air Canada operates 24 of the 737-8 jets, while WestJet has 13 of the planes and Sunwing has four. Air Canada said that it was but that there may be delays. Preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The system is designed to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators said spurious sensor data may have caused the MCAS to put the Lion Air plane into an unwarranted dive. Boeing has laid out a procedure that pilots can use in such a scenario to switch off the MCAS system; however, that procedure wasn’t followed by the Lion Air pilots. The FAA says Boeing is due to upgrade the MCAS software next month. Today’s FAA announcement marked a rapid about-face: On Tuesday, the agency that it saw “no basis to order grounding” 737 MAX airplanes, and that no other civil aviation authorities had furnished data that would warrant further action. The 737 MAX is the latest incarnation of Boeing’s best-selling jet, and the company insists that the planes are safe. But in a , Boeing said it supported the decision: “Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft. ” ‘On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents,’ said Dennis Muilenburg, president, CEO, chairman of the Boeing Company. ” ‘We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. 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.’ “Boeing makes this recommendation and supports the decision by the FAA.” Check back for updates to this developing story, first published at 10:49 a.m. PT March 13.
Canada grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets in wake of Ethiopia crash, isolating U.S.

Canada grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets in wake of Ethiopia crash, isolating U.S.

1:18pm, 13th March, 2019
Air Canada joins the list of carriers grounding their 737 MAX planes. (Air Canada Photo) Canada today joined scores of nations in suspending flights of Boeing 737 MAX jets, out of concern that two catastrophic 737 crashes might be related. The move by Transport Minister Marc Garneau leaves the United States and the Federal Aviation Administration increasingly isolated in its stance that the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets are airworthy and that no further safety measures are needed at this time. Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 planes are barred from arrivals and departures in Canada, and will not be allowed to fly over the country until further notice, Garneau said. Air Canada operates 24 of the 737-8 jets, while WestJet has 13 of the planes and Sunwing has four. Air Canada said that it was but that there may be delays. Garneau said satellite data suggested there were similarities between the flight profiles for the 737-8 involved in an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on Sunday and a , killing 189 people. In both cases, the pilots reported control difficulties just after takeoff, and the planes nose-dived shortly afterward. Garneau said the satellite readings were not conclusive, and he shied away from saying definitively that the crashes were related. “But it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” he said. With Canada having blocked Boeing 737 Max planes from its airspace, the US has the only remaining ones, with nearly 50 currently in use. — Jillian Stampher (@JillianStampher) Preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The system is designed to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators said spurious sensor data may have caused the MCAS to put the Lion Air plane into an unwarranted dive. Boeing has laid out a procedure that pilots can use in such a scenario to switch off the MCAS system, but that procedure wasn’t followed by the Lion Air pilots. The FAA says Boeing is due to upgrade the MCAS software next month. Concerns about a potential link between the two fatal crashes have led to widespread groundings of the 737 MAX, the latest incarnation of Boeing’s best-selling plane. China and the European Union have been joined by nations ranging from Mexico to Oman. On Tuesday, the FAA issued a statement saying that it saw “no basis to order grounding” 737 MAX airplanes, and that no other civil aviation authorities have furnished data that would warrant further action: UPDATED Statement regarding 737 MAX. — The FAA (@FAANews) Boeing said it had no new guidance to offer to 737 MAX operators. “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.” The black-box recorders from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have been recovered, but there’s no word yet about what was found in the cockpit recordings or flight data.
Regulators ground Boeing 737 MAX jets in Europe despite reassurances from FAA

Regulators ground Boeing 737 MAX jets in Europe despite reassurances from FAA

2:34pm, 12th March, 2019
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet delivered to Ethiopian Airlines takes off in July 2018. (Boeing Photo) Update for noon PT March 12: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has suspended all flight operations of Boeing 737 MAX jets in EU countries in the wake of , even though the Federal Aviation Administration insisted the model was airworthy. EASA said it issued its own airworthiness directive “as a precautionary measure,” and suspended all 737-8 and 737-9 flights into, out of or within the European Union. The suspension follows this morning’s decision by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to suspend operations and ban 737 MAX jets from flying over British airspace until further notice. “EASA is continuously analyzing the data as it becomes available,” the European Union’s safety agency . “The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident.” A growing number of nations are suspending 737 MAX operations, in light of the fact that the 737 MAX 8 has been involved in two fatal accidents in the past five months. Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa killed all 157 people aboard, while the crash of a Lion Air 737-8 in Indonesia killed 189 last October. Both accidents occurred just minutes after takeoff, and involved a catastrophic nose dive. Preliminary results from the Lion Air investigation suggest that , and the Ethiopian pilots reportedly told flight controllers before the crash that But investigators say it’s too early to connect the two crashes. On Monday, the FAA saying that 737 MAX 8 jets remained airworthy, and no U.S. carriers have discontinued using the planes. But the European suspension is likely to raise the pressure on the FAA to take action or at least provide additional information. Airlines in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea and other locales have also grounded 737 MAX jets, either in response to regulatory orders or on their own. Sens. , D-Mass., and , R-Utah, joined California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in calling for suspension of U.S. flights. Boeing is cooperating with investigators in Ethiopia. , the company said “we understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” but noted that the FAA “is not mandating any further action at this time.” Boeing shares slumped more than 6 percent in afternoon trading, after a 5 percent drop on Monday. Previously: The Federal Aviation Administration responded to concerns over Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by reassuring airlines that the planes were airworthy, despite the fact that the model was involved in two catastrophic fatal accidents in the past five months. , just minutes after the takeoff of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. In its the FAA acknowledged on Monday that many reports have pointed out similarities to the , in which 189 people dled. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the notification said. Airlines in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 MAX 8 jets, pending verification that the planes are safe. It’s not yet clear what effect the FAA’s confirmation of airworthiness will have on those suspensions in service. The FAA has dispatched experts to assist Ethiopian investigators on the ground, Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, GE Aviation, Boeing and Kenya’s civil aviation agency are on the case as well. “All data will be closely examined, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. focused on an automatic control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system is meant as a safeguard to keep the plane from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but there were some signs that the system on the Lion Air 737-8 was receiving spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor. Monday’s notification reviewed actions taken by the FAA to ensure that Boeing’s prescribed safety procedures were adequate. The FAA also noted that some actions are still in process. For instance, Boeing is working on design changes to the MCAS system that will result in less reliance on “procedures associated with required pilot memory items.” “The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by AD [airworthiness directive] no later than April 2019,” the agency said. Boeing will also update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the design changes for 737-8 and 737-9 models, The FAA said. touching upon the design changes and revisions in training procedures, as well as the recommended cockpit procedures for dealing with MCAS problems. “It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time,” Boeing said in the statement. The Ethiopian plane’s two “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from crash debris, but it’s not yet clear how much data can be retrieved. One witness that smoke was coming from the rear of the plane before it hit the ground. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the FAA to “until their safe use has been confirmed.” The FAA didn’t indicate it would take that step, but promised to take if it identifies an issue that affects safety. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed that view: “I want travelers to be assured that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments.” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, meanwhile, voiced confidence in the 737 MAX line, which is produced at the company’s factory in Renton, Wash. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” . “Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely.” He acknowledged that dealing with Sunday’s tragedy was “especially challenging” because it came so soon after the Lion Air crash. “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do,” Muilenburg wrote. CEO to employees: Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely. We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it. — Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 5:32 p.m. PT March 11.
Regulators ground Boeing 737 MAX jets in Europe despite FAA’s reassurances

Regulators ground Boeing 737 MAX jets in Europe despite FAA’s reassurances

2:03pm, 12th March, 2019
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet delivered to Ethiopian Airlines takes off in July 2018. (Boeing Photo) Update for noon PT March 12: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has suspended all flight operations of Boeing 737 MAX jets in EU countries in the wake of , even though the Federal Aviation Administration insisted the model was airworthy. EASA said it issued its own airworthiness directive “as a precautionary measure,” and suspended all 737-8 and 737-9 flights into, out of or within the European Union. The suspension follows this morning’s decision by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to suspend operations and ban 737 MAX jets from flying over British airspace until further notice. “EASA is continuously analyzing the data as it becomes available,” the European Union’s safety agency . “The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident.” A growing number of nations are suspending 737 MAX operations, in light of the fact that the 737 MAX 8 has been involved in two fatal accidents in the past five months. Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa killed all 157 people aboard, while the crash of a Lion Air 737-8 in Indonesia killed 189 last October. Both accidents occurred just minutes after takeoff, and involved a catastrophic nose dive. Preliminary results from the Lion Air investigation suggest that , and the Ethiopian pilots reportedly told flight controllers before the crash that But investigators say it’s too early to connect the two crashes. On Monday, the FAA saying that 737 MAX 8 jets remained airworthy, and no U.S. carriers have discontinued using the planes. But the European suspension is likely to raise the pressure on the FAA to take action or at least provide additional information. Airlines in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea and other locales have also grounded 737 MAX jets, either in response to regulatory orders or on their own. Sens. , D-Mass., and , R-Utah, joined California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in calling for suspension of U.S. flights. Boeing is cooperating with investigators in Ethiopia. , the company reviewed the safety measures that were put in place in the wake of last October’s crash and noted that “the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time.” Boeing shares slumped more than 6 percent in afternoon trading, after a 5 percent drop on Monday. Previously: The Federal Aviation Administration responded to concerns over Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by reassuring airlines that the planes were airworthy, despite the fact that the model was involved in two catastrophic fatal accidents in the past five months. , just minutes after the takeoff of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. In its the FAA acknowledged on Monday that many reports have pointed out similarities to the , in which 189 people dled. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the notification said. Airlines in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 MAX 8 jets, pending verification that the planes are safe. It’s not yet clear what effect the FAA’s confirmation of airworthiness will have on those suspensions in service. The FAA has dispatched experts to assist Ethiopian investigators on the ground, Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, GE Aviation, Boeing and Kenya’s civil aviation agency are on the case as well. “All data will be closely examined, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. focused on an automatic control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system is meant as a safeguard to keep the plane from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but there were some signs that the system on the Lion Air 737-8 was receiving spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor. Monday’s notification reviewed actions taken by the FAA to ensure that Boeing’s prescribed safety procedures were adequate. The FAA also noted that some actions are still in process. For instance, Boeing is working on design changes to the MCAS system that will result in less reliance on “procedures associated with required pilot memory items.” “The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by AD [airworthiness directive] no later than April 2019,” the agency said. Boeing will also update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the design changes for 737-8 and 737-9 models, The FAA said. touching upon the design changes and revisions in training procedures, as well as the recommended cockpit procedures for dealing with MCAS problems. “It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time,” Boeing said in the statement. The Ethiopian plane’s two “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from crash debris, but it’s not yet clear how much data can be retrieved. One witness that smoke was coming from the rear of the plane before it hit the ground. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the FAA to “until their safe use has been confirmed.” The FAA didn’t indicate it would take that step, but promised to take if it identifies an issue that affects safety. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed that view: “I want travelers to be assured that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments.” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, meanwhile, voiced confidence in the 737 MAX line, which is produced at the company’s factory in Renton, Wash. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” . “Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely.” He acknowledged that dealing with Sunday’s tragedy was “especially challenging” because it came so soon after the Lion Air crash. “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do,” Muilenburg wrote. CEO to employees: Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely. We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it. — Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 5:32 p.m. PT March 11.
Britain and other nations ground Boeing 737 MAX jets despite FAA’s reassurances

Britain and other nations ground Boeing 737 MAX jets despite FAA’s reassurances

10:57am, 12th March, 2019
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet delivered to Ethiopian Airlines takes off in July 2018. (Boeing Photo) Update for 8:25 a.m. PT March 12: Britain and other nations grounded more Boeing 737 MAX jets today in the wake of , even though the Federal Aviation Administration insisted the model was airworthy. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority took the further step of banning 737 MAX jets from flying over British airspace until further notice. because “we do not currently have sufficient information” from the crashed plane’s flight data recorder. Airlines in more than a dozen countries have suspended 737 MAX operations, in light of the fact that the 737 MAX 8 has been involved in two fatal accidents in the past five months. Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa killed all 157 people aboard, while the crash of a Lion Air 737-8 in Indonesia killed 189. Both accidents occurred just minutes after takeoff, and involved a catastrophic nose dive. Preliminary results from the Lion Air investigation suggest that , and the Ethiopian pilots reportedly told flight controllers before the crash that But investigators say it’s too early to connect the two crashes. On Monday, the FAA saying that 737 MAX 8 jets remained airworthy, and no U.S. carriers have discontinued using the planes. But British aviation authorities said they would be guided by the European Aviation Safety Agency as well as industry regulators around the globe. Airlines in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea and other locales grounded the jets as well, either in response to regulatory orders or on their own. Sens. , D-Mass., and , R-Utah, joined California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in calling for suspension of U.S. flights. Boeing is cooperating with investigators in Ethiopia. , the company reviewed the safety measures that were put in place in the wake of last October’s crash and noted that “the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time.” Boeing shares slumped more than 6 percent in morning trading, after a 5 percent drop on Monday. Previously: The Federal Aviation Administration responded to concerns over Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by reassuring airlines that the planes were airworthy, despite the fact that the model was involved in two catastrophic fatal accidents in the past five months. , just minutes after the takeoff of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. In its the FAA acknowledged on Monday that many reports have pointed out similarities to the , in which 189 people dled. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the notification said. Airlines in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 MAX 8 jets, pending verification that the planes are safe. It’s not yet clear what effect the FAA’s confirmation of airworthiness will have on those suspensions in service. The FAA has dispatched experts to assist Ethiopian investigators on the ground, Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, GE Aviation, Boeing and Kenya’s civil aviation agency are on the case as well. “All data will be closely examined, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. focused on an automatic control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system is meant as a safeguard to keep the plane from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but there were some signs that the system on the Lion Air 737-8 was receiving spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor. Monday’s notification reviewed actions taken by the FAA to ensure that Boeing’s prescribed safety procedures were adequate. The FAA also noted that some actions are still in process. For instance, Boeing is working on design changes to the MCAS system that will result in less reliance on “procedures associated with required pilot memory items.” “The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by AD [airworthiness directive] no later than April 2019,” the agency said. Boeing will also update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the design changes for 737-8 and 737-9 models, The FAA said. touching upon the design changes and revisions in training procedures, as well as the recommended cockpit procedures for dealing with MCAS problems. “It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time,” Boeing said in the statement. The Ethiopian plane’s two “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from crash debris, but it’s not yet clear how much data can be retrieved. One witness that smoke was coming from the rear of the plane before it hit the ground. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the FAA to “until their safe use has been confirmed.” The FAA didn’t indicate it would take that step, but promised to take if it identifies an issue that affects safety. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed that view: “I want travelers to be assured that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments.” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, meanwhile, voiced confidence in the 737 MAX line, which is produced at the company’s factory in Renton, Wash. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” . “Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely.” He acknowledged that dealing with Sunday’s tragedy was “especially challenging” because it came so soon after the Lion Air crash. “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do,” Muilenburg wrote. CEO to employees: Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely. We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it. — Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 5:32 p.m. PT March 11.
FAA tells airlines Boeing 737 MAX jets are airworthy but says changes are coming

FAA tells airlines Boeing 737 MAX jets are airworthy but says changes are coming

7:59pm, 11th March, 2019
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet delivered to Ethiopian Airlines takes off in July 2018. (Boeing Photo) The Federal Aviation Administration today responded to concerns over Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets by reassuring airlines that the planes were airworthy, despite the fact that the model was involved in two catastrophic fatal accidents in the past five months. , just minutes after the takeoff of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. In its the FAA acknowledged that many reports have pointed out similarities to the , in which 189 people dled. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the notification said. Airlines in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and several other countries grounded their 737 MAX 8 jets, pending verification that the planes are safe. It’s not yet clear what effect the FAA’s confirmation of airworthiness will have on those suspensions in service. The FAA has dispatched experts to assist Ethiopian investigators on the ground, Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, GE Aviation, Boeing and Kenya’s civil aviation agency are on the case as well. “All data will be closely examined, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. focused on an automatic control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The system is meant as a safeguard to keep the plane from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but there were some signs that the system on the Lion Air 737-8 was receiving spurious data from an angle-of-attack sensor. Today’s notification reviewed actions taken by the FAA to ensure that Boeing’s prescribed safety procedures were adequate. The FAA also noted that some actions are still in process. For instance, Boeing is working on design changes to the MCAS system that will result in less reliance on “procedures associated with required pilot memory items.” “The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by AD [airworthiness directive] no later than April 2019,” the agency said. Boeing will also update its training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect the design changes for 737-8 and 737-9 models, The FAA said. The Ethiopian plane’s two “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from crash debris, but it’s not yet clear how much data can be retrieved. One witness that smoke was coming from the rear of the plane before it hit the ground. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the FAA to “until their safe use has been confirmed.” The FAA didn’t indicate it would take that step, but promised to take if it identifies an issue that affects safety. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed that view: “I want travelers to be assured that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments.” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, meanwhile, voiced confidence in the 737 MAX line, which is produced at the company’s factory in Renton, Wash. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it,” . “Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely.” He acknowledged that dealing with Sunday’s tragedy was “especially challenging” because it came so soon after the Lion Air crash. “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do,” Muilenburg wrote. CEO to employees: Since its certification and entry into service, the MAX family has completed hundreds of thousands of flights safely. We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and in the work of the men and women who design and build it. — Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave)
China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

11:46am, 11th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Update for 9:27 a.m. PT March 11: Airlines in China and three other countries have suspended flights of their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets in light of Sunday’s catastrophic crash in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines reported today that both of the “black boxes” from the 737-8 that crashed — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — . However, as saying that one of the recorders was partially damaged. “We will see what we can retrieve from it,” the official told AP. Sunday’s crash killed all 157 people aboard the plane, including . Many of those workers were in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737-8 model in less than five months. The earlier crash. , China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it was issuing its suspension notice “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occurred in the takeoff phase.” The agency said it would consult with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and let Chinese airlines know when flights can be resumed. Separately, Ethiopian Airlines, which has four 737 MAX 8’s remaining after Sunday’s crash, said it would Indonesia for inspections. And Cayman Airlines said it was “until more information is received.” Boeing is participating in the Ethiopia crash investigation but said it had no new guidance for airplane operators: Breaking: In statement to CNN, Boeing says no new safety guidance planned for now on : “At this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.” — Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) The crash forced the at its factory in Everett, Wash. “Boeing is deeply saddened by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and our focus is on supporting our customer,” company spokesman Paul Bergman said in an email. “In light of this, we are postponing the 777X external debut on March 13 and the related media events. We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.” was down more than 7 percent in midday trading. Previously: Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed Sunday, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents during an early phase of flight is drawing attention from analysts. that the crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and GE. Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8 just minutes after takeoff. Soon afterward, the plane took a high-speed, catastrophic dive into the Java Sea. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in Sunday’s crash had its first flight and was added to Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet in . It was among, out of a ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue plus mechanical failure, human error, weather conditions and potential sabotage. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.” This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 12:47 p.m. PT March 10.
China tells airlines to suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after fatal crash in Ethiopia

China tells airlines to suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after fatal crash in Ethiopia

9:51pm, 10th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Update for 7:45 p.m. PT March 10: Chinese officials asked domestic Chinese airlines to suspend flights of their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, in light of today’s catastrophic crash in Ethiopia. The crash, which killed all 157 people aboard the plane, was the second fatal accident involving the 737-8 model in less than five months. The earlier crash killed 189 people on a Lion Air flight in Indonesia. , China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it was issuing the suspension notice “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occurred in the takeoff phase.” The similarities led officials to declare the suspension “in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks.” The agency said it would consult with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and let Chinese airlines know when flights can be resumed. Separately, Cayman Airlines said it was “until more information is received.” The crash forced the at its factory in Everett, Wash. “Boeing is deeply saddened by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and our focus is on supporting our customer,” company spokesman Paul Bergman said in an email. “In light of this, we are postponing the 777X external debut on March 13 and the related media events. We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.” Previously: Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed today, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents during an early phase of flight is drawing attention from analysts. that today’s crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and GE. Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8 just minutes after takeoff. Soon afterward, the plane took a high-speed, catastrophic dive into the Java Sea. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in today’s crash had its first flight and was added to Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet in . It was among, out of a ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue plus mechanical failure, human error, weather conditions and potential sabotage. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.” This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 12:47 p.m. PT March 10.