Boeing’s 737 Max: 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Energy and Paper Manuals


A second digital system discovered on different Boeing jets additionally alerts pilots to uncommon or hazardous conditions throughout flight and lays out really helpful steps to resolve them.

On 737s, a light-weight sometimes signifies the issue and pilots must flip by way of their paper manuals to search out subsequent steps. Within the doomed Indonesia flight, because the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for management, the pilots consulted the guide moments earlier than the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 folks aboard.

“In the meantime, I’m flying the jet,” mentioned Mr. Tajer, the American Airways 737 captain. “Versus, pop, it’s in your display. It tells you, That is the issue and right here’s the guidelines that’s really helpful.”

Boeing determined towards including it to the Max as a result of it might have prompted regulators to require new pilot coaching, in response to two former Boeing workers concerned within the choice.

The Max additionally runs on a posh internet of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull again on the controls, switch that motion to the tail. By comparability, Airbus jets and Boeing’s extra trendy plane, such because the 777 and 787, are “fly-by-wire,” which means pilots’ motion of the flight controls is fed to a pc that directs the aircraft. The design permits for a lot extra automation, together with methods that stop the jet from coming into harmful conditions, similar to flying too quick or too low. Some 737 pilots mentioned they most well-liked the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire as a result of they believed it gave them extra management.

Within the latest crashes, investigators consider the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap known as the stabilizer, tilting the aircraft towards the bottom. On the doomed Ethiopian Airways flight, the pilots tried to fight the system by slicing energy to the stabilizer’s motor, in response to the preliminary crash report.

As soon as the facility was lower, the pilots tried to regain management manually by turning a wheel subsequent to their seat. The 737 is the final trendy Boeing jet that makes use of a guide wheel as its backup system. However Boeing has lengthy recognized that turning the wheel is troublesome at excessive speeds, and should have required two pilots to work collectively.

Within the remaining moments of the Ethiopia Airways flight, the primary officer mentioned the tactic wasn’t working, in response to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the aircraft crashed, killing 157 folks.

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