Sometimes a very small mistake can be the reason between life and death. Due to such an error, Ethiopian Airlines’s Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft became a victim of an accident and all passengers and crew members aboard the plane death were killed. This was the second incident after the accident in Indonesia in October last year. In the investigation till now, there is an indication that the reason in both the accidents was almost the same. Both incidents have been linked to a new software used by Boeing in its aircraft. Pilots did not receive adequate training on the software, was also a major reason for the accident.
New software threat
Since the crash, Boeing’s aircraft have been grounded across the globe. Many airlines have also stopped the sale of Max 8 aircraft. When Boeing created aircraft of 737 Max, it claimed that there was a bigger and more affordable engine. This large engine was installed under the low wings of 737 aircraft. Placing big engines at this place increased the threat of the plane stalling. Stalling of a plane means that the aircraft stops in the air and it starts falling downwards. In order to avoid this danger, Boeing has created MCAS (Managing Characteristics Augmentation System) software. This software instructs the plane to tilt down and speed up the position of the stall.
Danger of stalling
The plane has a sensor called Alpha One that measures angle of attack (AOA). It looks like a small wing in the plane and it is on two sides. The sensor’s job is to tell the computer what angle the aircraft is flying at. If the AOA is too high then the risk of stall is there. Usually AOA stays below 15 to 20 degrees. If the software feels that the AOA is too much, then MCAS makes the plane downwards.
In October 2018, the Boeing 737 Max plane of Lion Air crashed in Indonesia. Pilots of the aircraft did not know that the MCAS system was engaged. The sensor in the air told the computer that the plane is stalling. On this the computer made the aircraft downward, while the pilot was trying to lift the plane. In this struggle the computer won and people were killed. A few weeks later, Boeing told that there was some malfunction in the AO sensor of the aircraft. The computer should have been closed through a switch.