The day after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed outside Addis Ababa, Moroccans took to social media to ask their national carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) to stop flying Boeing 737 MAX 8. Several media outlets around the Kingdom, including the news website le Desk, joined a Twitter campaign that eventually led to RAM’s decision to ground the one MAX it owns.
Washington D.C. – While watching news coverage of the accident, I could not help but to think of Lion Air crash in October 2018 off the Java Sea. You do not need to be an aerospace engineer to see the similarities between the two events.
New airplanes with “sophisticated” software do not fall off the sky unless there is a flaw in their design or a bug in their computer systems. Clearly, the Boeing 737 MAX has serious problems and it should not be in the air shuttling passengers around the globe.
As investigators determine if the Boeing 737 MAX’s flight control system caused the deadly accidents, RAM faces a special challenge since most of its fleet is Boeing.
However, early reports of lapses in the safety approval system and lack of proper training materials for this specific aircraft are worrisome and question Boeing’s commitment to safety. As a result, airlines worldwide need to revisit their relationship with the Seattle based company.
Indeed, news reports circulating in the American media should raise alarm among RAM executives.
According to the Wall Street Journal, The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) launched an inquiry after Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed back in October, few months before the Ethiopia accident. DOT is probing if Boeing failed to warn airlines about a potentially dangerous feature in its flight control system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) on the MAX.
Furthermore, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the United States government agency that regulates civil aviation, employees warned as early as seven years ago that Boeing had too much control over the Federal authorization process of new aircrafts. Since the FAA started to shift more authority to the manufacturer itself, Federal regulators lost control over the certification process leading to the potential approval of airplanes that should not be flying.
But it is Dominic Gates’, Seattle Times aerospace reporter, story exposing a possible collusion between FAA mangers and Boeing that should put RAM’s officials on notice.
According to the Seattle Times,” Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.”
Additionally, “several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. “
According to the Seattle Times” the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.
In interview with National Public Radio, Mr. Gates confirmed that both “Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago before the second crash of a 737 MAX.”
This chummy relationship between federal regulators and the industry they are supposed to regulate explains why after the two fatal crashes, the FAA and Boeing ignored the similarities between the incidents and insisted on the airworthiness of the MAX.
Since it is becoming evident that the FAA is out of step with International aviation safety organizations and that Boeing cannot be trusted to self-certify, RAM should be more vigilant when buying Boeing aircrafts. With the 737 MAX grounded, it is time for the Moroccan airlines to re-work its commitment to Boeing.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.
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