Boeing has been forced to cut production of its troubled 737 airliners, at least temporarily that is. This is a knock on effect of recent crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia and the emerging possibility that it may have been a software fault in both airlines.
Boeing announced that it will reduce production from 52 planes a month to 42 by mid-April as reported in the Irish Examiner.
This is a response to banning orders issued by various countries and a halting of deliveries of the 737 Max, the plane involved in both crashes. Recent reports from Ethiopia have ruled out pilot error putting the model under increased scrutiny.
A report from the Ethiopian authorities issued on Thursday said the pilots of flight ET302 “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash.
Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said in the statement “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”
He went on to say that Boeing is in the process of updating its MCAS software and finalising new training for Max pilots.
This has been given as the reason for the reduction in production of the aircraft he said, “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 prioritise additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the Max to flight,” he said.
The crash in Ethiopia on the 10th of March caused a worldwide reaction with the EU, China and others banning the use of the aircraft. Boeing at first criticised the move but later backtracked as it emerged problems may be apparent within the aircraft.
There were no survivors of the Indonesia Lionair or the Ethiopia airlines crashes.
The pilots of the Ethiopia airlines crash have been commended for their efforts in averting a disaster. Boeing has issued an apology to those effects but it was little consolation to many.
The chief pilot’s father, Dr Getachew Tessema, told the BBC the apology was “too little, too late”.
“I am very proud about my son and the other pilot, both of them,” he told the BBC.
“To the last minute they struggled as much as they could but unfortunately they were not able to stop it.
Flight ET302 crashed after take-off from Addis Ababa on route to
Last October, Lion Air flight JT 610 crashed into the sea near Indonesia killing all 189 people on board.
The initial reports from Ethiopia have not laid blame, but have noted that the pilots were fully qualified and followed all the procedures that should have prevented the crash.
The report that there may be an issue with the MCAS system which must be rectified before the aircraft can take to the air once more.
The MCAS software is designed to top the plane from stalling, the sensors activate when the plane is believed to be climbing altitude to fast. It is believed that this may have malfunctioned on both aircraft. Forcing the pilots to try and prevent the plan from nose diving.
Although the software wasn’t named, from the recent announcement by Boeing it is believed to be the same issue. The same system is believed to have caused the Lionair crash.
The pilots of Ethiopia airlines may have been notified of the potential issues. It is believed that they followed the instructions provided by Boeing but that these still did not prevent the plane from going down.
Both crashes have had a major impact on Boeing market value and the trust placed in the company by the aviation industry and potential passangers.
The price of Boeing fell dramatically in recent weeks due to the crashes and subsequent banning orders issued by countries around the world. These recent developments which, while not categorically placing blame with the company does not look good.
Airlines around the world have been waiting for orders of the new model 737, which have not been stalled. It is still too early to say how public opinion will be moved by the recent findings in both crash investigations.
It is likely that civil action may be taken should the fault be laid at Boeings’ feet. As one of the world leading commercial aircraft providers this definitely a tumultuous time for the company.