Ethiopian crew followed procedure, but unable to control Boeing MAX 8 jet: minister

1 / 2
Families of the 157 victims, regulators and travelers around the world are waiting for clues to the accident. (AFP)
2 / 2
The Boeing 737 MAX was caught in two deadly incidents in the past few months. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 April 2019
0

Ethiopian crew followed procedure, but unable to control Boeing MAX 8 jet: minister

  • World waiting for clues to the accident after the new Boeing jet crashed six minutes after take-off
  • The UAE has accepted an invitation to join the US Federal Aviation Administration’s review panel on the Boeing 737 MAX

ADDIS ABABA:  Ethiopian Airlines pilots followed proper procedures when their Boeing MAX 8 airplane repeatedly nosedived before a March 10 crash that killed 157 people, Ethiopia’s minister of transport said on Thursday as she delivered the first official report on the disaster.

“The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft,” Dagmawit Moges told a news conference in the capital, Addis Ababa.

She recommended that Boeing review the aircraft control system and aviation authorities confirm the problem had been solved before allowing that model of plane back into the air. It was grounded globally following the crash, which was the second deadly accident in six months involving the new model.

“Since repetitive uncommanded aircraft nose down conditions are noticed ... it is recommended that the aircraft control system shall be reviewed by the manufacturer,” she said.

“Aviation authorities shall verify that the review of the aircraft flight control system has been adequately addressed by the manufacturer before the release of the aircraft for operations.”

However, the report could spark a debate with Boeing about how crew responded to problems triggered by faulty data from an airflow sensor, particularly over whether they steadied the plane before turning key software off.

Boeing said it would study the report.

Families of the victims, regulators and travelers around the world are waiting for clues to the accident after the new Boeing jet crashed six minutes after take-off.

A Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed just five months earlier in Indonesia killing all 189 aboard.

The preliminary report into the Lion Air disaster said the pilots lost control after grappling with the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software, a new automated anti-stall feature that repeatedly lowered the nose of the aircraft based on faulty data from a sensor.

Boeing said on Wednesday it had successfully tested an update of the MCAS software designed to reduce its authority and make it easier for pilots to handle.

UAE joins review panel on Boeing 737 MAX

The UAE has accepted an invitation to join the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) review panel on the Boeing 737 MAX, a senior official told Reuters on Thursday.

The invitation has been received and the UAE has agreed to join, said Ismael al Blooshi, assistant director, safety affairs at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).


‘Fuel of the future’ comes of age as Aramco opens first hydrogen filling station

Updated 17 June 2019
0

‘Fuel of the future’ comes of age as Aramco opens first hydrogen filling station

  • Fatih Birol’s comments were a deliberate poke at those experts who think that the sheer logistics of hydrogen make it always an unlikely solution to global energy challenges
  • Birol’s article was followed by a report from the IEA that put some meat on the bones of the argument that hydrogen is key to solving problems such as global warming

DUBAI: Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, cracked a joke in the Financial Times a couple of weeks ago.
“Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and it always will be,” he wrote about the fuel that many experts agree could hold the key to the world’s energy problems.
It was a deliberate poke at those experts who think that the sheer logistics of hydrogen — generation, storage, and transportation — make it always an unlikely solution to global energy challenges.
Birol’s article was followed by a report from the IEA that put some meat on the bones of the argument that hydrogen is key to solving such problems as global warming and environmental degradation.
“The world has an important opportunity to tap into hydrogen’s vast potential to become a critical part of a more sustainable and secure energy future … The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future,” the report said.
That argument will get a critical boost today, when Saudi Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world, opens its first hydrogen fueling station in Dhahran Techno Valley, in the heart of the Kingdom’s oil producing region.
Aramco has partnered with Air Products, a US company that has been a pioneer in the use of industrial gases, to produce a filling station for hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

 

It is very much a test. “The collected data during this pilot phase of the project will provide valuable information for the assessment of future applications of this emerging transport technology in the local environment,” Aramco said when the project was first announced.
But it is something Aramco has been investigating for a long time. Ahmed Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s chef technology officer, said: “The use of hydrogen derived from oil or gas to power fuel cell electric vehicles represents an exciting opportunity to expand the use of oil in clean transport.”
Hydrogen — essentially what is left when you take the oxygen out of water — has been recognized as a potential fuel source for many decades. Motor manufacturers developed a hydrogen motor engine 50 years ago, but the ease and accessibility of hydrocarbon fuels — oil, gas and coal — made it uneconomic to develop this technology beyond the prototype stage.
Now, as the debate over the role of hydrocarbons in the global environmental balance has become ever more intense, some experts, including Birol and other influential parts of the thought-leadership establishment, believe hydrogen is the next Big Thing in global energy trends.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) said recently that “green” hydrogen offers a solution to the world energy challenge, and that is the problem the theoreticians are struggling with: Hydrogen is released naturally in the process of burning hydrocarbons, but it is self-defeating, in an environmental sense. if you have to burn oil, gas or coal to produce it.
On the other hand, renewable sources, like sun, wind and water, do not produce enough hydrogen to be practically or commercially viable, and not at the right times, when people actually need it.
But, as the WEF noted recently “low-cost green hydrogen is coming”, as technology advances mean the cost of renewable energy falls dramatically each year. The Middle East already has a very big and very cost-efficient program for solar energy generation.
The other challenges lay in how to store and transport hydrogen. It can be loaded onto a tanker like LNG, or pushed through pipelines, but it would require a huge investment to change current logistics systems — essentially designed for oil and LNG — to handle hydrogen.
Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, already have the infrastructure associated with oil and gas refining and petrochemicals production to be able to equip “hydrogen hubs,” as long as there is government will and commercial incentive to do so.
For the Kingdom, it looks like a no-brainer for the future. As Birol said: “So, hydrogen offers tantalising promises of cleaner industry and emissions-free power. Turning it into energy produces only water, not greenhouse gases. It’s also the most abundant element in the universe. What’s not to like?”

FACTOID

Technological advances mean low-cost ‘green’ hydrogen offers a solution to the world energy challenge, according to the World Economic Forum.