The Ultimate Failure of the Boeing 737 Max


Conrad Broderick, Digital Editor

In March 2019, the Boeing 737 Max aircraft was grounded worldwide after 346 people died in two crashes. Lion air flight 610 on October 29, 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on March 10, 2019 were the aircrafts involved in the crashes. There were two significant reasons for the aircraft’s failure. The primary reason was a major software flaw created by Boeing engineers. The other reason for the aircraft’s foul-up was insufficient oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

Boeing failed to share information on the flaw in the Boeing 737 Max’s stabilizing software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). It was designed to automatically counter a tendency in the aircraft to pitch upwards. Boeing was at fault for concealing the existence of the MCAS from 737 Max pilots. “The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee has indicated that Lion Air Flight 610 experienced erroneous A.O.A (Angle Of Attack) data. In the event of erroneous A.O.A data, the pitch trim system can trim the stabilizer nose down in increments of up to ten seconds” (Page 51 of The Boeing Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin Number TBC-19). This “erroneous A.O.A data” in the MCAS software would cause the aircraft’s nose to dive down for up to ten seconds, thus being the reason the planes crashed.

It has been said that the regulator was “in Boeing’s pocket” and that the FAA’s management overruled its own technical and safety experts “at the behest of Boeing.” This means that the FAA is an agency promoting Boeing and the industry instead of promoting safety in public air transportation. This specific situation would be defined as “conflict of interest”. The FAA is promoting Boeing almost as if the FAA is sponsored by Boeing. It is classified as “a conflict of interest” because the FAA will gain something from promoting Boeing.

On November 18, 2020 FAA administrator Steve Dickson signed a PDF that will begin the process of bringing the Boeing 737 max back into service. FAA employees have been working hard on troubleshooting the issues that cost the lives of 346 people.