By: AirTravellerPH Staff
After 8 months since the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted more fatal crashes of the 737 Max after the Lion Air incident, the first major crash involving the aircraft. Yet, the grounding only came in after an Ethiopian Air 737 Max crashed, the second fatal, one which was about 5 months apart from the Lion Air incident.
The primary cause is the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) design flaw which is being used only on the 737 Max.
The FAA predicted that the MCAS flaw may lead to 15 future fatal crashes right after Lion Air incident, but even after this, the agency deemed the aircraft airworthy to fly and operate passenger services.
United States House Transportation Committee Chair Congressman Pete DeFazio said, "We have learned that shortly after the issuance of the airworthiness directive, the FAA performed an analysis that concluded that, if left uncorrected, the MCAS design flaw in the 737 MAX could result in as many as 15 future fatal crashes over the life of the fleet—and that was assuming that 99 out of 100 flight crews could comply with the airworthiness directive and successfully react to the cacophony of alarms and alerts recounted in the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the Lion Air tragedy within 10 seconds."
In a report from Simple Flying, the FAA said, "A Transport Airplane Risk Assessment Methodology (TARAM) is one of several safety tools regularly used by the FAA to analyze safety issues. The FAA’s Corrective Action Review Board relied on TARAM results — as well as information from the ongoing investigation into the accident of a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia — to validate the agency’s immediate decision to issue a Nov. 7, 2018, Emergency Airworthiness Directive. The directive reminded pilots of the important procedures to promptly correct runaway stabilizer trim. On March 12, the agency completed a subsequent TARAM that considered the most likely scenario for the 737 MAX accident in Ethiopia. The accident investigation team also worked overnight to collect and analyze satellite data that might corroborate the hypothesis while investigators provided additional information from the accident site. The FAA acted immediately to ground the aircraft on March 13 after verifying the satellite data, which was reinforced by evidence from the crash site."
The FAA has also provided additional information on the background of the predicted 15 crashes involving the 737 MAX, this assumes a 45-year fleet life and a total fleet of 4,800 aircraft. The prediction were based on a situation if no further action were to be undertaken.
In the wake of the two fatal crashes, Boeing and the FAA have been under public scrutiny. The 737 MAX recertification is deemed to slip into 2020. At the same time, other agencies like the EASA will be conducting their own assessment on the 737 MAX.
Many passengers have lost confidence on airlines operating the 737 MAX. In the Philippines alone, unknowing passenger tend to ask the local airlines if they will be flying on a 737 MAX even if Airbus aircraft accounts for about 80% of the passenger aircraft in the fleet of local airlines. The only operator of Boeing aircraft in the country is Philippine Airlines, which operates the widely popular Boeing 777-300ER mainly used for flights from Manila to the United States. Aside from Airbus, other aircraft brands that operate in Philippine-based carrier fleets comprise of Bombardier, ATR, British Aerospace, and Boeing. Not a single commercial airline in the Philippines operates any type of Boeing 737 variant.