It’s about trust

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, one flown by Lion Air and the other by Ethiopian Airlines, will continue to have an impact.

737-MAX 8 Artwork. Image – Boeing

Not the least of the concern is the admission by Boeing in a statement on Sunday that it was aware as long ago as 2017 that there was a software problem. Boeing didn’t identify the problem to the FAA (the Federal Aviation Administration is a governmental agency that regulates civil aviation in the USA. As Boeing is a US company it regulates their aircraft.) until after the Lion Air crash. In between those two dates, reports were completed but Boeing considered that “the existing functionality was acceptable.”

After the FAA was informed, it agreed with Boeing that there was no safety issue. A Safety Review Board met in December and concurred. After the Ethiopian Airways crash on March 10th this year, Boeing insisted the plane was safe, proclaiming in a string of press releases that safety was “a core value.” It wasn’t until the 13th that it recommended to the FAA that all Boeing 737 Max 8’s be grounded. And the reason – “out of an abundance of caution.”  The company also said that “Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX”

Roll on almost two months and the planes are still grounded and Boeing admits it knew for at least than seventeen months that there was a problem.

At the FAA, even on the day before it grounded all 737 Max’s it said, “our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.” Yet it knew there was a problem as early as November 2018, five months before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The situation now is that airlines have deferred orders and some wonder if passengers will refuse to fly on the plane even when certified safe. Because the airline and the regulator is implicated, passengers will feel wary.

Can the two be trusted in the future when they say a plane is safe?

Sunday’s announcement is a real eye-opener and one that demands change. In order to convince the public, there need to be reassuring changes that Boeing can’t self- certify and that the FAA needs to be more concerned about public safety than supporting the airline industry which, whether true or not, is how many passengers and potential passengers see it.

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