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FAA Analysis: 737 MAX Could Crash 15 More Times

That is, if Boeing didn't fix the MCAS system
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2019 1:23 PM CST
In this April 10, 2019, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for India-based Jet Airways lands following a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
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(Newser) – A month after the deadly October 2018 Lion Air crash in Indonesia, the FAA completed an analysis that found it likely wouldn't be the last fatal Boeing 737 MAX crash. That analysis, released Wednesday during a House Transportation Committee hearing and reported on by the Wall Street Journal, found that unless Boeing fixed an automated flight-control system, the MAX stood to potentially average one fatal crash every two to three years. With the lifespan of the fleet estimated as roughly 30 to 45 years, it put the potential total at 15 fatal crashes. But the second such crash wasn't years off: it came in Ethiopia in March. The Journal's take on the analysis' conclusion: that the MAX, "before software changes, [was] potentially more prone to crash than several earlier Boeing models."

The outcome of the analysis was two moves on the FAA's part: to provide emergency notice to crews on how to react should the stall-prevention system, MCAS, malfunction, and to oversee an effort on Boeing's part to install updated software for MCAS. Those fixes are not yet complete, and the MAX remains grounded, as it has been since the March crash. Stephen Dickson, who became FAA administrator in August 2019, did not characterize the FAA's choice not to ground the planes as a mistake. But he did say, per the AP, "Obviously the result is not satisfactory. The decision did not achieve the result that it needed to achieve." CNN reports two whistleblowers are set to testify next. Dickson separately told CNBC that he doesn't expect the FAA to recertify the MAX until 2020. (Read more Boeing stories.)

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