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Following much of the world grounding or restricting airspace to one of the most successful modern narrowbody airliners after the recent crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, Canada has followed suit. The combined 41 737 MAX aircraft of Air Canada, WestJet, and Sunwing will be grounded until further notice.

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Canada issues safety notice for Boeing 737 Max 8s

HEJERE, Ethiopia -- Canada joined much of the world in barring the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet from its airspace on Wednesday, saying satellite tracking data shows possible but unproven similarities between the Ethiopian Airliner crash that killed 157 people and a previous crash involving the model five months ago. The decision left the U.S. as one of the few remaining countries to allow the planes to keep flying.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said a comparison of vertical fluctuations found a "similar profile" to the Lion Air crash that killed 187 people in October.

Garneau emphasized that the data is not conclusive but crossed a threshold that prompted Canada to bar the Max 8. He said the new information indicated that the Ethiopian Airliner jet's automatic system kicked in to force the nose of the aircraft down after computer software determined it was too high. He said that in the case of the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, the pilot fought against computer software that wanted to drop the nose of the plane.

"So if we look at the profile, there are vertical fluctuations, in the vertical profile of the aircraft and there were similarities in what we saw," Garneau said. "But I would repeat once again. This is not the proof that is the same root problem. It could be something else."

Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke with President Donald Trump and reiterated that the 737 Max 8 is safe, the company said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has backed the jet's airworthiness and said it was reviewing all available data.

"Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft," acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the agency would not comment on Canada's decision, saying it doesn't comment "on actions that other civil aviation organizations take."

While aviation experts warn against drawing conclusions until more information emerges from the investigation, much of the world, including the European Union, has grounded the Max 8 or banned it from their airspace.

"Similar causes may have contributed to both events," European regulators said, referring to the Lion Air crash.

More countries took action Wednesday. Lebanon and Kosovo barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from their airspace, and Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing after grounding its fleet. Egypt banned the operation of the aircraft. Thailand ordered budget airline Thai Lion Air to suspend flying the planes for risk assessments. Lion Air confirmed reports it has put on hold the scheduled delivery of four of the jets.

Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa's best-managed airline, grounded its remaining four models.

And airline pilots on at least two U.S. flights have reported that an automated system seemed to cause their planes to tilt down suddenly.

Ethiopian Airlines said flight recorders from the jet that crashed will be sent abroad for analysis. A spokesman for the airline, Asrat Begashaw, said the airline has "a range of options" for the data and voice recorders of the flight's last moments.

"What we can say is we don't have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia," he said, adding that it would be sent to a European country that he did not identify. An airline official has said one of the recorders was partially damaged.

Boeing's technical team joined U.S., Israeli, Kenyan and other aviation experts in the investigation led by Ethiopian authorities.

Some aviation experts have warned that finding answers in the crash could take months.

An Ethiopian pilot who saw the crash site minutes after the disaster told AP that the plane appeared to have "slid directly into the ground."

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said their pilots had received special training.

"In addition to the basic trainings given for 737 aircraft types, an additional training was given for the Max version," Tewolde told to state news reporters.

"After the Lion Air crash, questions were raised, so Boeing sent further instructions that it said pilots should know. Those relate to the specific behaviour of this specific type of aircraft. As a result, training was given by Boeing, and our pilots have taken it and put it into our manuals," he said.

Tewolde said he is confident the "investigation will reveal that the crash is not related to Ethiopian Airlines' safety record."

Forensic DNA work for identifications of the remains recovered so far has not yet begun, Asrat said. The dead came from 35 countries.

More devastated relatives of victims arrived at the crash site Wednesday, some supported by loved ones and wailing.

Others mourned in private. Dawit Gebremichael sat with a photograph of his only sister, Sara, a flight attendant on the plane. She left three children.

"It is customary for Ethiopians to have a body and a proper burial," he told the AP. "But we don't have the body here, and we don't expect anything now."

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canada-issues-safety-notice-for-boeing-737-max-8s-1.4333935?fbclid=IwAR3Xe08Tf9hIgTNoK5Klc90cbscaqw1aCmQLfKhfrvyV_5Em04JslcalD88

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2 hours ago, Benton Harper said:

Interesting that the 2 that have crashed were not based in the EU or North America etc. but rather in sketchier areas...

While neither incident happened in Western countries, the concern about the MCAS system applies to all 737 MAXs.

Lion Air (like other Asian low fare carriers) does have a somewhat sketchy reputation when it comes to safety. After all, why didn't they pull the doomed plane from service after the previous crew had reported a problem? Ethiopian on the other hand has a pretty good safety reputation when compared to most other African carriers. What I can't speak for is whether MAX pilots working for airlines in the developing have received as much training about MCAS and the other new systems on these planes as those from Western countries.

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35 minutes ago, WMATAC40LF said:

While neither incident happened in Western countries, the concern about the MCAS system applies to all 737 MAXs.

Lion Air (like other Asian low fare carriers) does have a somewhat sketchy reputation when it comes to safety. After all, why didn't they pull the doomed plane from service after the previous crew had reported a problem? Ethiopian on the other hand has a pretty good safety reputation when compared to most other African carriers. What I can't speak for is whether MAX pilots working for airlines in the developing have received as much training about MCAS and the other new systems on these planes as those from Western countries.

I'm somewhat suspect about Ethiopian safety as it's compared to other African carriers...

Excellent point on the pilots, training is a big question.  Also, were there not also some recent software upgrades, and don't they also require training.

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Looks like Boeing is in big trouble. All Canadian and America carriers have been forced to ground their 737 Max 8. I hope that the issue. Is solved quickly and that the ban will be lifted soon because I am schedule to fly to Toronto on a WestJet 737 Max 8 on the 29th of June

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We're still waiting on CVR and FDR data from the Ethiopian flight.  Once investigators have that I'm sure will get a more clear picture if there is a systemic issue to be concerned with.

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22 hours ago, Thomasw said:

Looks like Boeing is in big trouble. All Canadian and America carriers have been forced to ground their 737 Max 8. I hope that the issue. Is solved quickly and that the ban will be lifted soon because I am schedule to fly to Toronto on a WestJet 737 Max 8 on the 29th of June

They're also in trouble with the U.S Military over quality issues on the KC46's.  Rubbish and tools are being found in the delivered aircraft which is a concern for the Air Force.  It's also behind schedule and over budget which is quite and achievement given it's based on the 767 airframe.

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On 3/13/2019 at 10:00 PM, Thomasw said:

Looks like Boeing is in big trouble. All Canadian and America carriers have been forced to ground their 737 Max 8. I hope that the issue. Is solved quickly and that the ban will be lifted soon because I am schedule to fly to Toronto on a WestJet 737 Max 8 on the 29th of June

I wouldn't be worried about your upcoming flight (which is months off anyway), because they'll just substitute another plane. Boeing is supposed to be working on a software update to the MCAS system that should be released next month (which could potentially end the groundings).

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13 minutes ago, WMATAC40LF said:

I wouldn't be worried about your upcoming flight (which is months off anyway), because they'll just substitute another plane. Boeing is supposed to be working on a software update to the MCAS system that should be released next month (which could potentially end the groundings).

Though once that software update comes out people might still be a little wary of lifting the ban so its gonna be a longer process than Boeing coming out with and update and everyone suddenly going back to loving the Max 8 again

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44 minutes ago, Thomasw said:

Though once that software update comes out people might still be a little wary of lifting the ban so its gonna be a longer process than Boeing coming out with and update and everyone suddenly going back to loving the Max 8 again

I'm not saying the ban will be lifted the second the update is released, but Boeing will probably use it to petition the regulatory authorities. I actually won't be terribly surprised if the MAX grounding lasts for several months (like what happened to the 787 in 2013).

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The grounding of the MAX 8 and MAX 9 boil down to the actual plane itself, and specifically, a system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

A bit of backstory on the MAX planes. In 2010, competitor Airbus launched a new version of their A320, direct competitor to the 737. The A320Neo had a huge improvement in fuel efficiency over previous models. Not wanting to be left in the dust, Boeing began development of their competing offering. A series of decisions led to the choice of the LEAP 1-B, which by the time production models came around, had grown even more in size than their already oversized for the 737 form when the MAXes were under development. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX  

Because the engines were oversized, and not designed for the old (1968) original design of the 737, they had to make it fit: move it forward and higher than other engines used in the past. Of course, this led to a change in dynamics, causing the plane to pitch. Enter the MCAS. This is software designed to compensate for this characteristic, and when operating as designed, is supposed to make the plane feel and handle like previous generations of 737. Boeing originally didn't even document the existence of this system to end users.

This system is not an autopilot, but runs all the time in the background. It is apparently not intuitive how to turn it off, and can even override a pilot pulling on the yoke. 

Speculation for both crashes is that the system repeatedly put the planes into a nose down situation shortly after take off, and the pilots continually wrestled with it, trying to bring the nose back up, with the system ultimately prevailing in both cases. Similar instances have occurred where experienced pilots who knew how to override the system and had the presence of mind to do so have also been apparently documented. https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2019/03/heres-what-was-on-the-record-about-problems-with-the-737-max/584791/

Though discrepancies in pilot training and experience from what we would expect in Canada versus those of the pilots of the two aircraft that crashed exist, I suspect that those are relatively minor factors in why the two planes ended up crashing. Evidence seems to strongly suggest the MCAS is to blame, and hopefully, through complete investigations of both crashes, and independent investigation into the operation of the MCAS will lead to answers.

In the words of one of the pilots, "The fact that this airplane requires such jury rigging to fly is a red flag. Now we know the systems employed are error prone — even if the pilots aren’t sure what those systems are, what redundancies are in place, and failure modes."

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All this tragedy in the name of competition. Why couldn't they just build a normal plane, one that they know will 'fly right' and that everyone knows and loves. If you've got a good recipe, don't muck around with it.

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On 3/14/2019 at 5:31 PM, Marc said:

They're also in trouble with the U.S Military over quality issues on the KC46's.  Rubbish and tools are being found in the delivered aircraft which is a concern for the Air Force.  It's also behind schedule and over budget which is quite and achievement given it's based on the 767 airframe.

Well, rubbish and tools sound better than 346 casualties. Boeing did show their 777X to employees, and that may be their bright spot for the week.

On 3/13/2019 at 7:00 PM, Thomasw said:

Looks like Boeing is in big trouble. All Canadian and America carriers have been forced to ground their 737 Max 8. I hope that the issue. Is solved quickly and that the ban will be lifted soon because I am schedule to fly to Toronto on a WestJet 737 Max 8 on the 29th of June

They'll replace it with a regular 737-800 most likely. Here in the US we're seeing AA put A321 or 738 on 3M8 flights. Perhaps even some 752 are doing turns.

23 hours ago, Thomasw said:

Though once that software update comes out people might still be a little wary of lifting the ban so its gonna be a longer process than Boeing coming out with and update and everyone suddenly going back to loving the Max 8 again

Regulators shouldn't lift the groundings until investigators release their report into these accidents.

3 hours ago, captaintrolley said:

All this tragedy in the name of competition. Why couldn't they just build a normal plane, one that they know will 'fly right' and that everyone knows and loves. If you've got a good recipe, don't muck around with it.

Well, they could've stuck with the newer 757 frame, which could accommodate larger engines without a hitch, but that opens up a whole new can of worms.

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The MAX mostly is a normal plane.  They opted to put bigger engines on the 737 instead of designing a new narrow-body aircraft.  The larger engines mean a few changes like positioning the engines a bit different and increasing the height of the landing gear a bit.  MCAS was supposed to compensate for those changes. 

A friend who follows some aviation vlogs said that Boeing didn't originally plan to have MCAS but instead added in response FAA insistence.  I haven't been able to find a credible source to corroborate that claim so it may or may not be true.

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15 hours ago, dbdb said:

The MAX mostly is a normal plane.  They opted to put bigger engines on the 737 instead of designing a new narrow-body aircraft.  The larger engines mean a few changes like positioning the engines a bit different and increasing the height of the landing gear a bit.  MCAS was supposed to compensate for those changes. 

 

yep - a number of reports have mentioned how the Boeing marketed plane that it was pretty much the same to fly as the previous models so there wouldn't be to upr-ating for the pilots.   Supposedly the training material for the Max amounted to a course on an iPad and some thin hard copy documents..

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It seems like the press finally decided over the weekend the max grounding was sufficient to justify a reporter doing some actual factual investigation searching incident reporting databases in Canada and the U.S.  There have been several complaints about the training from pilots who encountered surprises in flight.

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1 hour ago, dbdb said:

It seems like the press finally decided over the weekend the max grounding was sufficient to justify a reporter doing some actual factual investigation searching incident reporting databases in Canada and the U.S.  There have been several complaints about the training from pilots who encountered surprises in flight.

BBC & CNN have reported that there were clear similarities between the Ethiopian & Lion air crashes. 

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55 minutes ago, dbdb said:

It seems that data was just released.  CBC had a report on the weekend citing other incidents where pilots reported problems with MCAS including one calling training "criminally insufficient". The Seattle Times report has a robust detailed analysis of the design, certification process and likely issues.

But the training has nothing to do with the plane itself. That’s for the airline to deal with

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4 hours ago, Thomasw said:

But the training has nothing to do with the plane itself. That’s for the airline to deal with

Right, except the 737-800 and the Max-8 share the same type certification; and the training session Boeing did offer made no mention of the MCAS. Sure sounds like Boeing misled the airlines. 

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7 hours ago, Thomasw said:

But the training has nothing to do with the plane itself. That’s for the airline to deal with

But how can the airline train when Boeing doesn't tell them  about features like MCAS and doesn't provide full documentation.

The Max range of 737 was marketed to Airlines that they didn't to retrain/up-skill their pilots.  It would be just like flying the older models.

Except it's not.

Had Boeing been up front and explained that larger engines being further forward had shifted the centre of gravity and that MCAS had been introduced to help pilots cope, then detailed the system and how to override 300+ people would still be alive.  But they didn't.

Boeing screwed up big time and the FAA didn't help when they dropped the ball on the certification.  Allowing Boeing to pretty much certify it's own aircraft was truly the fox guarding the hen house.

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17 minutes ago, Marc said:

But how can the airline train when Boeing doesn't tell them  about features like MCAS and doesn't provide full documentation.

The Max range of 737 was marketed to Airlines that they didn't to retrain/up-skill their pilots.  It would be just like flying the older models.

Except it's not.

Had Boeing been up front and explained that larger engines being further forward had shifted the centre of gravity and that MCAS had been introduced to help pilots cope, then detailed the system and how to override 300+ people would still be alive.  But they didn't.

Boeing screwed up big time and the FAA didn't help when they dropped the ball on the certification.  Allowing Boeing to pretty much certify it's own aircraft was truly the fox guarding the hen house.

Agreed, however, "technically" it comes down to pilot error due to a lack of proper training

The fact, the airlines were not told how much training was actually required is the problem, and it appears the newer pilots had nothing in their experience to base on what to do when things went sideways.

Yeah, Boeing pulled a fast one...

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