The Crash of Flight 303: The Flaws of Boeing’s Superstar Aircraft

Tragedy has struck in the air for the second time in six months, after a Boeing 747 Max experienced complications minutes after takeoff, soon crashing onto Ethiopian land. This follows a Boeing accident of only six months prior, where Lion Air 610 of the same model crashed into the Java sea.


The Crash

Flight 307 departed from the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport at 8:38 A.M. on March 10th, bound for Nairobi. The captain in command had logged over 8,000 hours of flight. Only five minutes after takeoff, all communication was lost between air traffic control and the plane. The pilot could be heard reporting a request to return back to the airport and land. The aircraft was oscillating, dropping and rising hundreds of feet, and had increased far beyond the designated speed. In only five minutes after takeoff, all communication with the plane was lost. In another few minutes, the plane crashed into Ethiopia. All 157 people onboard were killed. The crash was also similar to the Lion air crash, which occurred in Indonesia- both planes were flown by experienced crew, reported problems, and crashed shortly after takeoff. The Lion Air crash also killed all of the people onboard. With a death toll of 189, it is one of the most devastating crashes in recent history.


The Plane

The Boeing 737 Max is a relatively newer plane model – Production began on the model in 2014. The aircraft is made in the U.S, which could have influenced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s decision to hold out on grounding the planes, making the U.S. one of the last countries to ban their flight. There are 371 models in circulation; All of them are grounded at the time of writing. The plane is the pioneer of the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. MCAS is designed to detect if a plane is in a stall. When its sensor goes off, it is supposed to push the aircraft’s nose down to quickly recover from this stall. After two crashes in such a short span, it has become apparent that this is not mere coincidence; it is the general conclusion of investigators that something is wrong within the design of the Boeing Max 747 model. It has been suggested that the MCAS system was the main cause behind the Lion Air crash, pushing the nose of the plane down too relentlessly for pilots to be able to override. It may play a part in the Flight 307 malfunction. Investigators have reported that it is too early to draw official conclusions.


The Aftermath

Over 70 countries immediately grounded all of the planes following the speculation that something in the fundamental design was amiss. The FAA held out for much longer, waiting until the Wednesday following the crash to suspend the takeoff of the Boeing 737 Max model. Although the FAA would usually announce this decision, President Trump declared that they would be grounded before the FAA could concur.

This heightened level of crash has sparked a frenzy in customers. It has been reported that Boeing shares dropped by 10 percent, costing them tens of billions of dollars in revenue. Over 30 countries have grounded their 737 Max planes, the U.S being one of the most recent. Panicked passengers have begun canceling Boeing flights, fearing for their security. Flight attendants have refused to serve on Boeing Max planes. Pilots are also outraged, as some claim that they were not even informed of the automated MCAS system.

On Wednesday, March 20th, news reports indicated that an additional warning light will be drafted into the model of the 737 max, in order to prevent the same sort of malfunction. While even the smallest aspects of a plane can be difficult to alter, Boeing officials believe this will adequately prepare pilots for the potential failure of sensors.

The FBI has also recently joined the investigation, probing into why and how the plane had passed tests to be certified as safe. Their findings have not yet been released.