Two disheartening tragedies a mere five months apart has sent shock waves throughout the aviation community, as investigators and engineers scramble to make sense of the 737 max crashes, which ultimately claimed the life of all 336 passengers and crew members. In the aftermath of the disastrous incidents, the FAA has enforced a grounding of all 737 max aircraft, a directive shared by governments unanimously across the globe, and cancellations of orders by jet buyers have begun to trickle towards Boeing corporate headquarters, as the company has facilitated a preliminary self-audit investigation of the flight line, a precautionary measure with a visit from the feds on the immediate horizon. The burgeoning environment of controlled chaos is only heightened by swirling rumors of apparent flaws in the instillation of secondary systems, the presence of overengineering, and issues surrounding deficient training in the ranks of global carrier operators, prompting skeptics to question the integrity of the entire medium range and high capacity next gen aircraft program. Fortunately, aviation leadership on a global scale at least acknowledges on some level that bad things happen in threes, and the banishment of the 737 variation from the friendly skies will at least delay the inevitable or allow for corrections to be executed in averting another horrid event where countless lives are lost.
With the presence of a hurricane force grade speculative storm intertwined and fragmented by conspiracy theories and visceral elements, authorities have already begun the long and arduous process in attempting to interpret mountains of evidence and unprocessed data which will hopefully produce viable results in isolating an exact cause or circumstances explaining the unresponsiveness of the controls. While preliminary reports point to a general consensus that both flight crews struggled to disengage automated systems providing inaccurate altitude and speed readings, the narrative becomes exceedingly complex as the variables of manufacturing specifications, pilot competency, airline budgets, and the presence of infrastructure possibly too complex for the design parameters of the aircraft are all relevant to solving the puzzle. As the investigation persists, the mystery of Malaysian Air flight 370 still haunts the entire airline industry.
Interestingly, a slew of international carriers have come to the defense of Boeing in the wake of the fatal crashes, including Qatar Airways, reports US News, as the CEO of the airline publicly vindicated the company with resounding praise and endorsement. Even officials from Ethiopian airlines offered words of support for the corporation, a curious and telling notion that indicate fiscal concerns remain at the apex of worldly priorities, a devastating and insufferable reality to families who lost loved ones in the accidents. With the daunting magnitude of current and pending litigation filed against Boeing in the form of wrongful death claims and negligence, the courtroom milieu will surely be congested with heated emotions, battalions of lawyers, and mountain ranges of paperwork. And leadership at the nationalized airlines realize that effective posturing in the present, will lessen the blow of the damaging pending controversy both on a financial and public relations level.
As the seemingly innumerable factors surrounding the tragedies coalesce into a troubling combination of riveting intrigue, the possible ramifications on the innovative marketplace may be profound. Eyewitness accounts from the Lion Air crash place at least one member of the flight crew exiting the cockpit and entering the main cabin in pursuit of flight manuals, an inkling that the pilots were frantically attempting to regain control of the aircraft, and a sign that the presence of overtly complex framework prevented a viable course of action in averting tragedy. Allegedly, Indonesian flight operators spent little or no time training in the actual 737 max, and it this holds true, the fatal combination of overengineering violently intersecting with unqualified human intervention will certainly lead to questions surrounding the future of smart and composite aircraft.
Another telling aspect in this unexpectedly complex scenario of unique circumstances is the propensity of the international carriers, especially the lesser industrialized powers, in purchasing the skeleton version of the aircraft, that rivals an individual leaving the car sales lot in a vehicle that is equipped with the basic of the basic features. Passengers traveling on the non-major throughout developing nations should consider the potential risks in purchasing a seat on an aircraft that may not satisfy first world standards of engineering or maintenance. Even though air travel throughout the entire planet is in a golden age of performance safety low risk renaissance, the introduction of AI technology into the navigational framework of the aircraft, may actually be a detriment to the traditional mechanical systems merely assisted and not directly interfaced with digital technology.
Boeing is attempting to throw a wild card into the fray by proclaiming to the FAA that necessary software upgrades have been implemented on the 737 max in alleviating glitches compromising the safety of the passengers and crew in fortifying for an ugly legal battle and a loss of a significant portion of the marketplace to rival Airbus. In the future shock world of thinking smart devices assaulting the collective IQ and self-driving vehicles threatening 3 billion years of evolution, instinct and the ability to react, the last thing society needs is the role of the pilot reduced to a glorified baby sitter in the high altitude jetways in the sky.
Read the US News story here.