The Anonymous Widower

Are The Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crashes Too Much Of A Coincidence?

When I was flying extensively as a private pilot, I used to follow air crash information closely. Many pilots do, as you might learn something that could be useful, even when you’re flying a humble Piper Arrow.

The two Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes have a lot in common.

  • Both airlines had a good service record.
  • Both planes had only been with their airlines for a few months.
  • Both captains were experienced pilots.
  • The planes crashed soon after takeoff, after pilots requested to return to the airport.
  • Both planes appeared to dive straight into the ground or sea.

This is too much of a coincidence for me.

I won’t speculate as to what the problem is, but I do feel that both airliners succumbed to the same design fault.

The only similar problem, I can remember is the series of incidents caused by cargo doors on DC-10 airliners in the 1970s.

American Airlines Flight 96 had the first problem in 1972 and luckily no-one was killed.

Some modifications were made, but this didn’t stop the crash outside Paris of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 in 1974, which killed all 346 people on board.

Did McDonnell Douglas and the American Authorities act as professionally as they should have?

I made a decision to never fly in a DC-10 again. I actually did, but it was eleven years later, after all the problems had been fixed.

What Will Be Trump’s Reaction?

Consider.

  • Boeing has a factory to build parts and assemble aircraft in China.
  • A lot of 737 MAX 8 airlines have been ordered by Chinese airliners.
  • China is developing an airliner called a C-919, that fits the same niche as some variants of a Boeing 737.
  • China has grounded all 737 Max 8 airliners in the country.
  • China and the USA are having trade talks over tariffs and trade.
  • Boeing is one of the largest American defence contractors.

So what will Trump tweet?

Conclusion

I won’t be flying in a Boeing 737 MAX 8 for several years.

March 11, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

8 Comments »

  1. I watched a large part of a programme on tv about air disasters. They were looking at a 737 on an internal US flight which suddenly flipped onto its side. The pilots struggled to control the plane as they couldn’t figure out what was happening. The plane suddenly righted itself and they climbed up again to get to their final approach when it did the same again. The tail-fin had moved and they could not correct it. Once again it corrected itself and they managed to land. A thorough inspection of the entire plane showed no faults. An investigation into other mysterious unsolved crashes showed some similarity. After further tests tge problem was down to a hydraulic valve the size of a cigar freezing up causing the tail-fin problem. So ething similar must be happening again. The plane suddenly goes out of control and the pilots cannot work out what to do. It is a frightening dituation and Boeing must get all there expertise into solving it very soon before more lives are lost. ps, I am flying back to the UK in an Airbus!

    Comment by mauricegreed | March 11, 2019 | Reply

    • Planes are now totally computer controlled. Is there a rather nasty bug in the software?

      Comment by AnonW | March 11, 2019 | Reply

  2. The DC10 suffered a series of accidents after several years in service. A problem with a cargo door did cause the Turkish Airlines crash near Paris, but three later crashes in quick succession were not due to faults with the aircraft: –
    Chicago – engine lost due to bad maintenance procedures.
    San Diego – trainee pilot flew into approach glide path – collision
    Mt. Erebus, Antarctica – CFIT – crew error in navigation and too low altitude.

    OTOH there were crashes with new early Airbuses: –
    Bangalore – I had a discussion with the Indian ambassador to France, who was unimpressed with Airbus claims that it was pilot error.
    Air Inter, near Strasbourg – CFIT – this was pilot error, in that they set to great a descent rate and hit mountains, however afterwards some of the controls were modified to make it less likely that this mistake would be repeated.

    It seems likely to me that pilot unfamiliarity with an essentially all new aircraft is part of the problem, however as an ex software developer the risk of a bug is a chilling possibility. Something that my have changed was that the philosophies of Airbus and Boeing were different. Airbus would not let the pilot fly outside the safety envelope of the aircraft, whereas Boeing put the pilot in control and give warnings – it appears the latter may have changed.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | March 11, 2019 | Reply

  3. Several countries have grounded these planes plus others have closed their airspace to them. Seems alarming but passenger safety is paramount.

    Comment by mauricegreed | March 12, 2019 | Reply

    • The mathematics of aerodynamics are very tricky. De Havilland were the masters and they designed the BAe 146, so that most controls except the rudder were manual. That team is now part of Airbus and could be the best wing designers about. Have Boeing tried to overtake Airbus and made a mistake? The Tines has a good article rhis morning. They speculated that it could be a loading problem, that put the C of G out of range. Jet fighters are sometimes deliberately unstable and conputers keep them flying where the pilots want them to go. I actually think Bombardier have applied modern aerodynamic methods to the Aventra. Stand on a platform, when one goes by and they are so silent. Noise is generated by turbulence and is wasted energy. All in all aerodynamics is a tricky thing to get right

      Comment by AnonW | March 12, 2019 | Reply

    • I have looked at the specs of the 737 MAX and the A320. The former appears to be metal and the latter is all composite. So does the A320 have a weight asvantage? The A320 also moves fuel about in the plane to keep the C of G in the optimal position. How clever is that? But is it easier to do with a composite aircraft, as shapes can be more intricate. It’s probably more expensive to design and possibly build. So because Boeing have gone for a derivative aircraft, they can’t do this. As The Tines said they have fitted big new engines which on climbing and take-off tilt the nose up. Airbus moght move fuel forward to conpensate to get the C of G in the right position.

      I think Boeing have made a big mistake in not competing with an all-new composite aircraft. The technology they beed is used in the Dreamliner. We shall see!

      Comment by AnonW | March 12, 2019 | Reply

      • I heard that the position of the wings has been altered and the distance between engines and wings had been altered. If so, this must affect the balance of the plane but even so wind-tunnel testing should have shown detrimental effects. With these modern planes there is so much more science involved compared to the days of VC10’s & BAC111’s etc
        Mere mortals like us can only conjecture. God help the poor innocent souls that lost their lives.

        Comment by mauricegreed | March 12, 2019

      • But remember the 111 had a serious aerodynamic problem, that crashed the prototype. My mathematical modelling experience says that Boeing can’t compete with an all-composite, smart plane from Airbus, that moves fuel around for balance, with a fifty-year-old conventional design.

        Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2019


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