Boeing grounds entire crash aircraft fleet

Mayday: In both the Ethiopian and Lion Air flight, pilots reported difficulties soon after take-off.

The world’s largest aerospace company has finally taken action after finding new evidence at the scene of this week’s fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash. How much trust has the industry lost?

On Sunday, an Ethiopia Airlines flight took off from Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi in Kenya. Three minutes later, it plummeted to the ground, killing all 157 people on board.

The story is sickeningly familiar. Less than five months ago, a Lion Air flight crashed shortly after taking off from Jakarta in Indonesia.

Both planes were the same model: the 737 Max 8 from US manufacturer Boeing. The Max 8 started operating less than two years ago.

As families gathered to mourn the dead, the US joined the long list of countries to ban the Max 8 from flying.

Boeing has now grounded the model’s entire fleet “out of an abundance of caution.”

So what makes the 737 Max 8 different?

The aircraft is longer, with a larger engine than Boeing’s other models. A new MCAS autopilot system was added to help control the plane.

In the Lion Air crash, investigators suspect that an anti-stall function caused the MCAS system to turn the aircraft’s nose down. The plane’s trajectory suggested its pilots were battling against the system for control as the plane nose-dived.

Nevertheless, flying is safer than ever. In the 1960s, when there was less automation, fatal accidents occurred once every 200,000 flights. Now, they happen less than once every two million flights.

Let’s fly

While the fear of flying is common, the industry is one of the world’s safest. Now, questions are being raised about safety. Have these crashes damaged trust in planes? Or should we wait for to learn more about the cause of the latest crash before passing judgement?

America was one of the last countries to ground the planes, as it had not found any faults with them. Were countries right to ban the Max 8? Was Boeing correct to act with an “abundance of caution”, despite the disruption to flights around the world?

You Decide

  1. Would you fly on a Max 8 plane?

Activities

  1. Make a leaflet explaining how safe flying is compared to the other main popular methods of transport.

Some People Say...

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”

Marilyn Ferguson

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The odds of a given person being in a plane crash are around one in 11 million. This is roughly the same as your chances of being eaten by a shark.
What do we not know?
Whether the Max 8’s MCAS automation system was to blame for the crash. If it was, it is unclear why the pilots did not just override the system, which should be simple to do. They

Word Watch

People
Including nine British nationals. People of 35 different nationalities were on board the plane.
Flight
All 189 passengers were killed when the plane crashed.
Max 8
Norwegian Airlines and TUI have grounded their Max 8 planes.
Boeing
The company’s shares fell 5% on Monday and 6% on Tuesday.
Anti-stall
A plane stalls when its nose its pointed too far up (this is called exceeding the angle of attack). At this point, air will hit the underside of the planes wings rather than flow over it, which can make the plane plummet to the ground.