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2009 Crash of Boeing 737 NG Now Receiving New Scrutiny

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 26 Jan 2020


Slashdot reader JoeyRox shares a disturbing story about a Boeing 737 NG flight carrying 128 passengers that crashed in 2009, killings its three pilots, another crew member and five passengers. But "the Dutch investigators focused blame on the pilots for failing to react properly when an automated system malfunctioned and caused the plane to plummet into a field," the New York Times reported this week. "The fault was hardly the crew's alone, however. Decisions by Boeing, including risky design choices and faulty safety assessments, also contributed to the accident on the Turkish Airlines flight."But the Dutch Safety Board either excluded or played down criticisms of the manufacturer in its final report after pushback from a team of Americans that included Boeing and federal safety officials, documents and interviews show. The crash, in February 2009, involved a predecessor to Boeing's 737 Max, the plane that was grounded last year after accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people and hurled the company into the worst crisis in its history. A review by The New York Times of evidence from the 2009 accident, some of it previously confidential, reveals striking parallels with the recent crashesand resistance by the team of Americans to a full airing of findings that later proved relevant to the Max. In the 2009 and Max accidents, for example, the failure of a single sensor caused systems to misfire, with catastrophic results, and Boeing had not provided pilots with information that could have helped them react to the malfunction. The earlier accident "represents such a sentinel event that was never taken seriously," said Sidney Dekker, an aviation safety expert who was commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board to analyze the crash. Dekker's study accused Boeing of trying to deflect attention from its own "design shortcomings" and other mistakes with "hardly credible" statements that admonished pilots to be more vigilant, according to a copy reviewed by The Times. [That 2009 study was never made public -- until Tuesday, after the New York Times had published its story. The same day Boeing announced they'd stopped production on the 737 Max.] The Times also reports that after the first fatal 737 Max crash in 2018, one Ohio State professor who has advised the FAA sent an email to a colleague citing research from the 1990s on automation-triggered disasters -- as well as Boeing's 2009 crash. "That this situation has continued on for so long without major action is not how engineering is supposed to work. After the second fatal 737 Max crash, he told he Times he was appalled. "This is such of a failure of responsibility," he said. "We're not supposed to let this happen.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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