Airplane Safety Concerns

Braden Danise, Staff Writer

Over the past six months, there has been rising concern over the safety of airplanes; two disastrous plane crashes occurred, both involving the Boeing 737 MAX plane.

On October 29, 2018, a plane in Indonesia crashed into the sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board. On March 10, 2019, a flight in Ethiopia crashed only six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. Following these two crashes, many countries grounded the Boeing 737 MAX plane.

Investigations were conducted into both of the crashes, and both investigations found that the anti-stall system, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), malfunctioned during the flights. The purpose of the MCAS is to prevent the plane from stalling by pushing the nose down when necessary, based on its information on the plane’s speed and angle. However, on the Indonesian and Ethiopian flights, the MCAS incorrectly pushed the nose down.

According to MSN, “The Ethiopian Airlines captain had called out “pull up” three times to tell the first officer to raise the nose, according to the preliminary crash report. Both pilots tried to pull the nose up together to keep the plane flying, but they were unable to regain control. In total, the anti-stall system pushed the nose down four times during the flight.”

As a result of this information, countries and airlines around the world remain reluctant to put the Boeing 737 MAX back in the air. Boeing officials are confident that they will be able to fix the safety issues with the 737 MAX, and maintaining that safety is the number one priority of the company. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said, “We now know that the recent accidents were caused by a chain of events, with a common chain link being erroneous activation of the aircraft’s MCAS function. We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it. As part of this effort, we’re making progress on the 737 MAX software update that will prevent accidents like these from ever happening again.”

The Boeing 737 MAX is still many steps away from being allowed back into the sky again. Even if it is able to pass through the many scrutinizing tests it will face, people will still need to feel safe flying in the planes. If the public does not trust the Boeing to transport them safely, airlines may need to find an alternative airplane manufacturer.