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What caused Ethiopian air crash; Trump orders grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8, 9s

March 14, 2019

NEW DELHI: There are only speculations as to what actually caused the Ethiopian Boeing plane crash last Sunday in Addis Ababa that claimed all 157 people on board. The flight detail recorders and black boxes have been found but it will take time to analyse them to reach a conclusion. The victims were of 35 nationalities and the plane was flying to Nairobi.

Expert opinions point to possibilities such as engine trouble, pilot error, disagreement of sensors, faulty anti-stalling system, MCAS failure. It is also said that the new version Boeing 737 Max 8 is fully automatic and has integrated anti-stalling software control system in which even the very senior pilots will need thorough training lest their interventions produce the opposite results of sensor reactions.

MCAS anti-stalling control system is an automated safety feature of the new energy-efficient Boeing 737 MAX 8. The 737 has been considered as the best- selling Boeing model.

According to the air traffic controller’s recorded voice exchanges, the pilot, captain Yared Getachew, had reported flight control problems and asked for permission to return and he was allowed to do so. It was at 8:44 am and that was the last contact with the plane, a CNN report quoted the chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, as saying.

The plane went down in six minutes of takeoff.

Captain Yared Getachew is reported to have had a commendable service record clocking 8000 hours of flying. The co-pilot in the cockpit was first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur.

The recent, similar Indonesian Lion Air crash in October has also been attributed to a problem with the automated safety feature - MCAS - of Boeing 737 MAX 8. But that too is no final conclusion.

But the similarities were “substantial”. Both crashes were soon after takeoff. They were just about ascending. Both planes reported same issues before crashing soon after.

The Boeing shares have plummeted since the Ethiopian crash.

These airlines grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8: Cina Southern Airlines, Norwegian Air, TUI Fly, Air China, SpiceJet, FlyDubai, Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Lion Air, Shandong Airlines, Smartwings, GOL Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, SilkAir, Aeromexico, Aerolineas Argentinas, LOT, Jet Airways, Oman Air, Ethiopian Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, Air Italy, Lucky Air, Icelandair, Cayman Airways, Eastar Jet, Enter Jet, Fiji Airways, Fuzhou Airlines, Kunming Airlines, Okay Airways, S7 Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, 9 Air, Garuda Indonesia, Comair, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, SCAT, Corendon Airlines.

Meanwhile, there was mid-air confusion as several countries closed their airspace to Boeing 737 MAX 8. For example, airlines flying to or through the UK had to change route or go back. Turkish Airlines flight 1969 to London was a case. Several countries have banned the aircraft.

The Boeing company at the same time reiterated “full confidence in the safety” of the new version plane.

Issuing an executive order grounding the new Boeing, US President Donald Trump rightly tweeted that additional "complexity creates danger", that full automation leaves the pilots with little scope to manoeuvre and take control and make "split second decisions" to save lives. "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"

"The plane rotated two times in the air, and it had some smoke coming from the back then, it hit the ground and exploded,” an eyewitness farmer told AP.

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