Flaws in Boeing 737 MAX design, certification led to crash: Indonesia report

The Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crash had been caused by a complex chain of events, Indonesian air accident investigator Nurcahyo Utomo, left, said. (AFP)
Updated 25 October 2019

Flaws in Boeing 737 MAX design, certification led to crash: Indonesia report

  • Lion Air crash also involved errors by airline workers and crew, investigators said
  • Indonesian regulators criticized the design of the anti-stall system known as MCAS

JAKARTA: Boeing, acting without adequate oversight from US regulators, failed to grasp risks in the design of cockpit software on its 737 MAX airliner, sowing the seeds for a Lion Air crash that also involved errors by airline workers and crew, Indonesian investigators found.
The fatal crash, followed less than five months by another at Ethiopian Airlines, led to a global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX and a crisis for the world’s biggest planemaker, which this week ousted its commercial airplanes chief.
In its final report into the Oct. 29, 2018, Lion Air crash that killed all 189 people on board, Indonesia made recommendations to Boeing, the airline, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies.
Indonesian regulators criticized the design of the anti-stall system known as MCAS, which automatically pushed the plane’s nose down, leaving pilots fighting for control.
“The design and certification of the MCAS did not adequately consider the likelihood of loss of control of the aircraft,” the report said.
Boeing has been working on a redesign of MCAS although it has yet to certified by the FAA.
The report also said “deficiencies” in the flight crew’s communication and manual control of the aircraft contributed to the crash, as did alerts and distractions in the cockpit.
The accident had been caused by a complex chain of events, Indonesian air accident investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told reporters at a news conference.
“From what we know, there are nine things that contributed to this accident,” he said. “If one of the nine hadn’t occurred, maybe the accident wouldn’t have occurred.”
During the flight, the first officer was unable to quickly identify a checklist in a handbook or perform tasks he should have had memorized, it said, adding that he had also performed poorly in training exercises.
The captain did not properly brief the first officer when handing over control just before the plane entered a fatal dive, it also said.
The report noted that according to the cockpit voice recorder, the first officer told the captain the flight was not in his initial schedule and he had been called at 4 a.m. to be informed of the revision, while the captain said he had the flu.
A critical angle of attack (AOA) sensor providing data to the MCAS anti-stall system had been miscalibrated by a company in Florida and that there were strong indications that it was not tested during installation by Lion Air maintenance staff, the report said.
Lion Air should have grounded the jet following faults on earlier flights, it said, and added that 31 pages were missing from the airline’s October maintenance logs.
Lion Air declined to comment.
Boeing said in a statement that it was addressing Indonesia’s safety recommendations and taking actions to enhance the safety of the 737 MAX.
FAA said it welcomed the report’s recommendations and would carefully consider them and all others as it continued to review Boeing’s proposed changes to the 737 MAX.
Boeing faces a slew of investigations by regulators, US Congress, and the Department of Justice over its development of the 737 MAX, its previously best-selling workhorse for short-haul travel.
Boeing last month settled the first claims stemming from the Lion Air crash, a US plaintiffs’ lawyer said.
Three other sources told Reuters that families of those killed would receive at least $1.2 million each.
The manufacturer is facing nearly 100 lawsuits over the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 which killed all 157 people on board the flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said this week the company was making “daily” progress on testing the final software fix for the 737 MAX and developing related training materials. The FAA has said it would need at least several more weeks for review.
The Indonesia report said that Boeing’s safety assessment assumed pilots would respond within three seconds of a system malfunction but on the accident flight and one that experienced the same problem the previous evening, it took both crews about eight seconds to respond.
It called for the systems to be designed not just for highly skilled test pilots but also for regular commercial airline pilots.
The FAA had delegated increasing authority to Boeing to certify the safety of its own aircraft, Indonesian investigators said in the report, recommending that all certification processes received adequate oversight.
A panel of international air safety regulators this month also faulted Boeing for assumptions it made in designing the 737 MAX and found areas where Boeing could improve processes.


Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

Updated 27 min 41 sec ago

Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

  • MCB warning comes after Johnson’s landslide election result
  • UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons   

LONDON: There is a “palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities” in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has warned, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a crushing victory in the 2019 general election.
“We entered the election campaign period with longstanding concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is ‘oven-ready’ for government. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons,” the MCB’s Secretary-General Harun Khan said. 
The warning came as accusations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party continue to plague it.
Despite concern that Islamophobia is “oven-ready” for government, a record number of Muslim MPs were elected on Thursday, with 19 winning seats in the general election; an increase of four from the last election in 2017.
Of these, 15 belong to the Labour Party and the other four, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, are Conservatives. 
As the UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons, this trend was also seen in the number of Muslim women, with 10 winning seats. 
Despite this, Muslims are still not proportionally represented in parliament.
Only 3 percent of the UK’s 650 MPs are Muslim, whilst the country’s Muslim population stands at around 5 percent.
The MCB’s concerns about bigotry and Islamophobia were echoed on Thursday by ex-party chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet member.
Warsi said the Conservative Party “must start healing its relationship with British Muslims,” and the fact that her colleagues in the party had retweeted comments from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins was “deeply disturbing.” 
She added: “An independent inquiry into Islamophobia is a must — the battle to root out racism must now intensify.”
The Tory peer has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in November that the party had a “deep problem” with Islamophobia. 
“Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party … the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia.”

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi (L) attend a general election campaign event in Bolton, Britain December 10, 2019. (Reuters)


Later in November, Johnson apologized for the “hurt and offence” that had been caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and said that an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” would begin by Christmas. 
Despite apologizing, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab in his Daily Telegraph column in August 2018, when he wrote that Muslim women wearing it “look like letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
Fourteen party members were suspended in March after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, and a member who had previously been suspended in 2015 for comments on social media was due to stand in local elections this year. 
Peter Lamb was readmitted to the party after he had served a suspension and apologized for his comments.
Lamb, who has since quit the party, tweeted in 2015: “Islam (is) like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
Yasmin Qureshi, a female Muslim Labour MP, has held her Bolton South East seat since 2010 and was re-elected on Thursday for the fourth time.
Speaking to Arab News, Qureshi said many Muslims were “very fearful and very disappointed” at Johnson’s victory.
“Generally, you can say whatever you want about Muslims in this country now and nobody is really bothered, nobody challenges it, and if it is challenged, it is very mildly dealt with.
“Islamophobia is a big issue and although everybody rightly spoke about anti-semitism, there was not as much emphasis and talk about Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is not just in the Conservative party, it is actually in the establishment. It is especially present in the media in this country; most of the newspapers of our country are very right-wing and anti-Muslim.
She added: “It doesn’t matter whether you malign Muslims, it’s essentially okay, you can get away with it. That is sadly a reflection of the current state of affairs in the UK.”