Safety Expert, Asked About Boeing, Gives a Telling Answer

He'd board a 737 Max 8, but he'd keep his granddaughter off it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 9:06 AM CDT
Safety Expert, Asked About Boeing, Gives a Telling Answer
This photo shows a Boeing 737 Max 8 type aircraft at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston on Monday, March 11, 2019.   (AP Photo/David Koenig)

Two crashes in five months have put the spotlight on the plane involved in both, the Boeing 737 Max 8. On NPR Tuesday, David Greene asked former FAA accident inspector David Soucie whether he'd get on one of these planes, and the answer was telling. "I personally would," said Soucie, but "what I probably wouldn't do today is put my family on a 737 8." He said he wasn't even sure why he'd make that distinction, but he would. "My 5-year-old granddaughter, there's no reason to put her in that level of risk at this time if I had to fly." Related developments:

  • Grounded in Europe: Britain, France, Germany, and the entire European Union suspended all flights by 737 Max 8s on Tuesday, reports Reuters. They joined China, Australia, Malaysia, Oman, and Indonesia on this rapidly growing list.
  • No FAA change: The FAA on Monday issued a "continued airworthiness" certificate for the Max 8, reports Bloomberg. The agency referenced Sunday's crash in Ethiopia and the earlier one in Indonesia in October. “External reports are drawing similarities between (Sunday's) accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,’’ the FAA said. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.’’

  • Two senators: Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal want the FAA to ground the jets until investigators figure out what's going on, reports Fox News. (American and Southwest are among the airlines using the jet.) Also, Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, head of the House Transportation Committee, said he'd "think twice" about boarding a Max 8.
  • Bad strategy? A post at Slate wonders if Boeing, locked in fierce competition with Airbus, made a bad business decision when it decided to upgrade its workhorse 737 instead of scrapping it for a new design. The tweaks "left the plane with a tendency to pitch up, which could result in a dangerous aerodynamic stall," writes Jeff Wise. "To prevent this, Boeing added a new autopilot system that would pitch the nose down if it looked like it was getting too high. According to a preliminary report, it was this system that apparently led to the Lion Air crash." Starting from scratch could have avoided this.
  • Boeing: The company says it is working closely with the FAA on software upgrades that will be deployed in the "coming weeks." The statement, issued Monday, mentioned the October crash but not the one Sunday. The updates will address the anti-stall system, reports CBS News.
  • Still flying: CNN has a breakdown of which airlines around the world are still flying the Max 8 and which have grounded it.
(More Boeing stories.)

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