Published: Thu, March 21, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says company understands 'lives depend' on plane safety

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says company understands 'lives depend' on plane safety

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019.

Boeing's 737 MAX planes have been grounded worldwide following two airplane crashes within six months, with China being one of the first countries to take the precaution. His presence on that flight, first reported by Bloomberg, was not disclosed in the preliminary report.

The news agency provided additional details about the October 2018 crash based on three sources who are familiar with what was found on the airliner's flight recorders.

The twin disasters killed 346 people.

Following the Lion Air crash, the FAA required Boeing to notify airlines about the system and Boeing sent a bulletin to all customers flying the Max reminding them how to disable it in an emergency.

The cause of the Lion Air flight crash is yet to be officially confirmed, but the prime suspect is the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which was developed for the 737 MAX.

Also on Wednesday, the Seattle Times, citing unidentified sources, reported the FBI was joining the criminal investigation into the MAX's certification.

Boeing said Tuesday that it will fully cooperate with the audit.

Some U.S. pilots have complained they were unaware of the new system, which is mentioned in the index of the aircraft's full manual but not the text, according to a version seen by Reuters.

Muilenburg said the software update and pilot training revision "will address the MCAS flight control law's behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs". "They didn't seem to know the trim was moving down", the source said. Both planes crashed minutes after take-off and their black boxes indicate similarities between two cases.

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the problem.

What investigators really draw attention to in the report is the airspeed and altitude issues the very same aircraft (PK-LQP) experienced during its four previous flights, particularly the one that preceded the day of the crash. The company on Tuesday reshuffled the top executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on the accident investigations.

The system is usually used to keep the aircraft level and the system is supposed to prevent the crew from lifting the nose too much.

Ethiopia's civil aviation head Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw told Reuters the investigation was proceeding as quickly as possible within global standards.

For now, more than 350 MAX aircraft are grounded around the world, and deliveries of almost 5,000 more - worth more than $500 billion - are on hold.

The MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 per cent on fuel, was developed for service from 2017 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

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