Tag Archives: Boeing

WestJet will stick with Boeing 737 MAX 8 as first airline looks to cancel order

The Calgary-based airline says it won’t follow the lead of Indonesia’s flag carrier, which cancelled its multibillion-dollar order for 49 Max 8 jets, citing a loss of confidence after two deadly crashes in the past six months.

Indonesian Airline Cancels $4.9 Billion 737 Order, As Feds Ramp Up Boeing Probe

CHICAGO (CBS) — Indonesia’s national airline is canceling a $4.9 billion order for Boeing 737 Max aircraft, after two deadly crashes involving the planes in five months; and Boeing is promising changes as investigations into the company ramp up.

Sources tell CBS News the Justice Department’s fraud unit subpoenaed documents, records, and data concerning the approval process for the 737 Max aircraft.

“If there is any kind of documentation that indicates that they knew there was a problem, and either didn’t resolve to the satisfaction of the FAA or didn’t reveal that, that could put them in jeopardy in terms of a possible criminal violation,” said former FBI executive David Gomez.

PT Garuda Indoesia had ordered 50 Max 8 jets in 2014, and received the first plane from the order last year, but is requesting to cancel the order, citing a loss of confidence.

“Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they have lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet,” Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan told The Associated Press, “This would harm our business.”

Garuda is the first airline to announce a cancellation of 737 Max planes since the new model jets were grounded over fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Garuda joined other airlines worldwide in grounding its one Max 8 jet after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight this month which killed all 157 people aboard. It came less than five months after 189 people died in the Oct. 29 crash of another Max 8, operated by Indonesian private carrier Lion Air.

Rosan said that Garuda plans to meet with Boeing representatives next week in Jakarta to discuss details of cancelling the order.

“We don’t want to use Max jets … but maybe will consider switching it with another Boeing model of plane,” Rosan said. He said Indonesian passengers are afraid to take flights using any Max model, whether it’s the 8, 9 or 10 series.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month and the Lion Air disaster off Indonesia in October killed 346 people combined. Both planes crashed minutes after takeoff.

Preliminary flight data indicates the jets struggled to gain altitude, and published reports reveal a safety assessment Boeing gave the FAA appeared to downplay the operation of the planes’ anti-stall systems. In the Lion Air flight, it’s believed the anti-stall system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down before the crash.

Boeing said it will add a warning system that alerts pilots to a sensor failure on the 737 Max. It had been offered as an $80,000 option, but it appears neither plane that crashed was equipped with the warning system.

“Most likely it was a connection between technology that may be new, and training that might not have been ready yet either, and crew procedures and airline procedures that also might have been a mistake” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia.

Ethiopian Airlines is defending its pilots after the New York Times reported they weren’t properly trained on the 737 Max aircraft. The airline said its pilots went through all the training required by Boeing and the FAA to fly the Max 8.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

European, Canadian Regulators To Do Own Review Of Boeing Jet

(AP) — Boeing’s grounded airliners are likely to be parked longer now that European and Canadian regulators plan to conduct their own reviews of changes the company is making after two of the jets crashed.

The Europeans and Canadians want to do more than simply take the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s word that alterations to a key flight-control system will make the 737 Max safer. Those reviews scramble an ambitious schedule set by Boeing and could undercut the FAA’s reputation around the world.

Chicago-based Boeing hopes by Monday to finish an update to software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to two people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees.

The FAA expects to certify Boeing’s modifications and plans for pilot training in April or May, one of the people said. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the briefings.

A Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft lands at an airport. (Source: Boeing)

But there are clear doubts about meeting that timetable. Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1 and suspend some routes that it flew with the plane before it was grounded around the world last week.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, which are slightly less dependent on the Max than Air Canada, are juggling their fleets to fill in for grounded planes, but those carriers have still canceled some flights.

By international agreement, planes must be certified in the country where they are built. Regulators around the world have almost always accepted that country’s decision.

As a result, European airlines have flown Boeing jets with little independent review by the European Aviation Safety Agency, and U.S. airlines operate Airbus jets without a separate, lengthy certification process by the FAA.

That practice is being frayed, however, in the face of growing questions about the FAA’s certification of the Max. Critics question whether the agency relied too much on Boeing to vouch for critical safety matters and whether it understood the significance of a new automated flight-control system on the Max.

The FAA let the Boeing Max keep flying after preliminary findings from the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia pointed to flight-control problems linked to the failure of a sensor. Boeing went to work on upgrading the software to, among other things, rely on more than one sensor and limit the system’s power to point the plane’s nose down without direction from the pilots.

The FAA’s assurance that the plane was still safe to fly was good enough for the rest of the world until an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 crashed. Satellite data suggests both planes had similar, erratic flight paths before crashing minutes after takeoff.

Patrick Ky, the executive director of the European regulator, said his agency will look “very deeply, very closely” at the changes Boeing and the FAA suggest to fix the plane.

“I can guarantee to you that on our side we will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions, whatever the FAA does,” he said.

The message was the same from Canada’s Transport minister, Marc Garneau.

“When that software change is ready, which is a number of weeks, we will in Canada — even if it is certified by the FAA — we will do our own certification,” he said.

Other countries could also conduct their own analysis of how much pilot training should be required on the Max. Ky noted that one Lion Air crew correctly disabled the plane’s malfunctioning flight-control system, but not the crew on the next flight, which crashed. He said pilots under stress might have forgotten details of a bulletin Boeing issued in November that reminded pilots about that procedure.

The FAA’s handling of issues around the Max jet have damaged its standing among other aviation regulators, said James Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FAA will have to be more transparent about its investigation, and it should require that pilots train for the Max on flight simulators, Hall said, because “that is how pilots train today, not on iPads.”

John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chairman of an FAA research and engineering advisory committee, said separate approvals by Canada and the Europeans will reassure the public because those countries are seen as having no vested interest in the plane.

“It’s unfortunate because it will probably cause a delay, but it may be the right thing in the long haul,” Hansman said. He expects that the FAA will wait until other regulators finish their reviews before letting the Max fly again.

FAA spokesman Greg Martin would not comment on whether the agency’s reputation has been hurt by its approval of the Max, the crashes or the agency’s initial hesitation to ground the planes after the second crash.

Meanwhile, the FAA is getting a new chief. The White House said Tuesday that President Donald Trump will nominate former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen Dickson to head the agency. Daniel Elwell has been acting administrator since January 2018.

Boeing too is shifting personnel. This week, the company named the chief engineer of its commercial airplanes division to lead the company’s role in the investigations into the Oct. 29 crash of the Lion Air jet and the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash. The executive, John Hamilton, has experience in airplane design and regulatory standards.

From 2013 until early 2016, Hamilton oversaw the use of Boeing employees to perform some safety-certification work on behalf of the FAA. That program has come under criticism from critics including members of Congress.

The Justice Department is investigating the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, and a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to someone involved in the plane’s development. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao formally directed her agency’s inspector general to audit the FAA’s handling of that process. Congressional committees are looking into the matter as well.

A Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on Max and aviation safety on March 27.

The company declined to comment. The Max, the latest and most fuel-efficient version of the half-century-old 737, is Boeing’s best-selling plane, with more than 4,600 unfilled orders.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feds Issue Subpoenas In Criminal Probe Of Boeing 737 Max Approval Process

CHICAGO (CBS) — Lawsuits are piling up for Boeing, and now the Justice Department is issuing subpoenas in the wake of two deadly plane crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft.

The FAA has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, and the Lion Air crash near Indonesia last October. A total of 346 people died in the crashes.

The FBI is assisting in a criminal investigation into how Boeing’s 737 Max was certified to fly. The Justice Department is focusing on Chicago-based Boeing’s certification and marketing for its 737 Max aircraft.

Sources briefed on the investigation said the criminal probe began after the crash of a Lion Air flight off the coast of Indonesia last October.

“The measures taken by Boeing after the first accident were not enough to avoid a second accident,” said French aviation safety expert Jean-Paul Troadec.

A separate investigation is looking into whether Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan violated ethics rules by boosting products from Boeing, his former employer. He has denied the claim.

Meantime, the attorney behind another wrongful death lawsuit against Boeing promised it would be just the first of many. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday, centering around the Lion Air crash.

Steven Marks has represented both foreign and domestic victims in virtually every major plane crash over the past 33 years, and he said these Boeing crashes are different.

“Telling pilots they can fly what amounts to a terribly different aerodynamic plane, and not even advising them of the new equipment to me is the most outrageous things I’ve seen in aviation over the past 35 years,” he said.

CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reported this week that U.S. airline pilots were initially given just 56 minutes of training — on an iPad — about the differences between the new Boeing Max planes and the older 737s.

The Max 8 is outfitted with bigger, more fuel-efficient engines than earlier 737s, and the weight and positioning of those engines shifted the plane’s center of gravity forward, increased the potential for the nose to pitch up after takeoff. To counteract this risk, Boeing developed software known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

In the Lion Air crash, a sensor malfunction triggered the new MCAS anti-stalling system, pushing the nose of the plane down nearly two dozen times before the aircraft plunged into the Java Sea. It happened on the same plane the day before the crash. A third pilot riding in the jump seat identified the problem, and told the crew how to stabilize the plane. That crew did not report it.

Several pilots have said they were not trained on the new MCAS anti-stalling system in the 737 Max planes.

“It must have been just horrifying in the cockpit for these professionals. You know, it’s been stated, ‘It should have been a memory item.’ Well, clearly it wasn’t,” former National Transportation Safety Board managing director Paul Goelz said.

Marks said he’s already in touch with families of the victims in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, and said several more lawsuits against Boeing are likely in the coming months.

European and Canadian regulators are doing their own reviews of the changes Boeing is making to a key flight-control system.

Lion Air voice recorder details pilots’ frantic search for fix before fatal plane crash: sources

The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of time before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

Congress To Investigate Boeing 737 Max 8 Approval Process

CHICAGO (CBS) — After two catastrophic crashes involving the 737 Max 8 that left almost 400 dead, there are serious new questions about how it was approved to fly.

Congress plans to investigate the approval process of Boeing’s 737 Max 8. That information comes on the heels of a Seattle Times report that the FAA may have sidestepped its oversight duties, allowing Boeing to essentially certify the aircraft itself.

“The flight data shows that they were very similar characteristics, that the plane went nose down at a not too far different altitude,” said Kevin Durkin, the aviation expert for Clifford Law Offices. “I believe it’s going to turn out that they were identical because of a single sensor, which caused the plane to nose dive.

He believes that potential flaw in the 737 Max 8’s design is part of an investigation. American Airlines Captain Dennis Tajer said lack of training to handle it should also be investigated.

“That aircraft was certified without simulator training,” Tajer said.

Now the spotlight is on how it was certified in the first place.

A Seattle Times report states that the FAA may have handed off some or all of the approval process to Boeing itself.

“It’s a deep concern,” Tajer said.

“The FAA should oversee everything,” Durkin said. “They are the ultimate authority in the United States to say these aircraft are safe or not safe, and they should not leave it to the manufacturer to make that decision alone.”

An FAA representative told CBS 2, “The 737 Max certification program followed the FAA’s standard certification process. We have no reports from whistleblowers [or] any other sources pertaining to FAA technical personnel being pressured to speed up certification of the Boeing 737 Max.”

“As the facts from the accident become available and we understand the necessary next steps, we’re taking action to fully reassure airlines and their passengers of the safety of the 737 Max,” said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

“Our pilots are now getting a chance to reset and see all the facts, and I can assure you that aircraft’s not going to fly again until the pilot’s say, ‘I’m confident in it. I’m trained, and I’m knowledgeable,” Tajer said.

Durkin said it has become more common over the past 20 years for the FAA to hand over some of its oversight to manufacturers because the FAA is strapped for resources.


Federal Agents Tell Boeing, FAA To Retain Records As 737 Max Jetliner Investigation Continues

CHICAGO (CBS)– After similarities between two deadly crashes, within months of each other, questions are emerging about how the jetliner was safe enough to fly.

Federal agents told Chicago-based Boeing and the FAA to retain records as they investigate the approval of the 737 Max Jetliner.

In Ethiopia’s capital, they held the first funerals for those killed a week ago when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed. The plane was made by Chicago-based Boeing, 737 Max 8.

The plane that crashed down in Indonesia last October was also a Boeing, 737 Max, and satellite data shows the two jets had similar flight patterns.

At the Ethiopian Air crash scene, authorities found that the plane’s jack screw, which helps lower or raise the nose of the plane, was set in the dive position.

This could indicate a problem with the flight control software.

The Seattle Times newspaper reported the federal government regulators delegated much of the plane’s safety assessment to Boeing itself.

The newspaper said the Justice Department is looking into the approval process and Congress has launched another investigation.

“Boeing is on the hot seat and I think they have to come forward for a full disclosure on everything,” DePaul University transportation expert Joe Schwieterman said.

In a statement, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg said “While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision.”

“Boeing is not looking terribly good in this,” Schwieterman said. “The good news is there are fixes. But it’s been tragic.”

The Seattle Times reported the Justice Department has issued a subpoena for information on the approval process. The federal agents said they have no comment.

Boeing told CBS2 they do doesn’t respond to questions concerning legal matters.