Opinion: Canada must keep the 737 Max grounded until it is truly safe


Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lead author of the book Canada First and co-author of the author Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety.

Immediately after the Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, following a similar crash off the coast of Indonesia on October 29, 2018, heeding an official call by China, the European Union and Brazil to shut down the entire 737 MAX fleet Given. . However, the US Federal Aviation Administration (opposed to the FAA. It chose to call this troubled aircraft’s faulty designs safe over and over again. The faulty 737 MAX killed 346 people, including my granddaughter, Samya Rose Stumo.

After Canada shut down three dozen 737 MAX planes from its airlines, the FAA had no choice but to follow suit. At the time, airline safety advocates in the US hoped that Canada would end its longstanding respect for the disgraced FAA and conduct a thorough, open, independent investigation with legitimate demands for essential information from Boeing.

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Alas, this hope was dashed. Without a focused public outcry, it seems likely that the Liberal government will repeat the FAA’s autocratic rule sometime early next year, albeit with minor additions.

The FAA has long been influenced by aircraft manufacturers and airlines lobbying Congress and the White House, which have had neither sufficient budgets, enforcement authority, or sufficient technical staff. As a result, the FAA has been influenced by industry apologists to make the agency safer for Boeing, giving the giant company too much influence in the certification process of its own aircraft. This is regulatory renunciation.

After the merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997, a sterling engineering company, long away from its reputation as Boeing, became a finance-focused company that prioritized stock options, huge stock buybacks, and profits, which made its shares raised the price. Boeing’s disinvestment in new aircraft development led company executives to opt to go with a very profitable, quick and dirty, hook-up 737 MAX. Due to fuel efficiency and less-expensive training requirements, airlines quickly signed up to 5,000 orders for this aircraft worth more than US$100 million.

What was unclear was the lethal hidden software, called MCAS, apparently inside the flight-control system to compensate for the aircraft’s erroneously unstable aerodynamic engine position/fuselage mismatch. A seasoned aerospace safety expert told me that “Boeing marketers rejected Boeing engineers.”

Over the past eleven years, the excellent safety record (one death) of American commercial airlines has swindled the FAA. It seemed indifferent to the new risks of expanding automation and software-controlled flight designs emanating from Boeing’s factories. Driven by a profit-maximizing ethos, Boeing established the MCAS without adequate FAA scrutiny or proper pilot training.

Imagine that the pilots of the Indonesian and Ethiopian 737 MAX suddenly lose control of a stealthy, misfiring MCAS that plunged large planes into disaster at nearly 900 kilometers per hour.

Neither serious criticism by official US government-sponsored reports nor indictment by Congressional reports of the cushy FAA/Boeing relationship has prompted Boeing to open up. The company is hiding critical engineering tests and evaluations under a veil of fake trade secrecy.

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Actually, on October 1, 2020, Democrats who lead the House Transportation Committee urged, but summoned the FAA to release “all documents, relating to the safe return of the aircraft … and key test data relating to the safety of the aircraft.” The FAA ignored this demand.

Transportation Canada and Parliament are impressed by Washington’s reluctance to require Boeing to disclose the information needed to evaluate Boeing and the FAA’s claims about the justification for going underground. An arrogant Boeing also refused to respond to a delayed invitation to a parliamentary committee to testify. Sharp questions posed to Transport Canada by engineer Chris Moore, who lost his daughter in an Ethiopian accident, remain unanswered.

Parliamentary testimony from the 737 MAX flight-control specialist, Gilles Primo, was also ignored, who told me: “The investigation requested by the families of the victims gave Transport Canada more teeth, ultimately forcing Boeing to be more cooperative.” Their own executives indicated that their main problem was dealing only with the data that Boeing wanted to disclose.” Technical submissions were of utmost importance to the FAA’s rule-making docket. Objections and warnings from FAA engineers by pilots such as the famous Captain Chesley Sullenberger were dismissed without technical feedback.

So when last week, a parliamentary committee, by a vote of 9 to 2, refused to recommend a public inquiry to the Trudeau cabinet, the always-resilient, grieving families felt that the invisible arm of the Boeing/FAA coalition had struck Ottawa. has captured. . Maybe with a whistleblower here, a media exposé there, some daring public servant might turn the documents towards summoning.

There is a federal grand jury decision about possible 737 MAX criminal violations still to come to the U.S. A federal lawsuit by the nonprofit Flyers Rights challenges the FAA’s underground order and atrocity law civil actions filed by families. .

With increased competition from China, Brazil, as well as Airbus, Boeing’s leadership in the large commercial jet market cannot avoid the deaths of unsafe passengers in another Boeing design-powered 737 MAX crash.

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