Boeing Max Failed to Apply Safety Lesson From Deadly 2009 Crash
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The crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 foreshadowed the risks of an automated flight-control system relying on data from a single sensor, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, the former director of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Accident Investigation Division.
The similarities between the recent disasters and the decade-old Turkish Airlines crash haven't escaped the attention of lawyers.
"Several parallels can be drawn," Guzzetti said, including that each of the accidents involved a single-sensor failure and subsequent technical changes by Boeing that were eventually mandated by the FAA, he said.
A fatal airplane crash a decade ago prompted a life-saving fix across thousands of Boeing 737 cockpits. So why wasn't the same lesson applied to the design of the 737 Max, an upgraded version on which 346 people died in recent disasters?
Investigators of the 2009 crash of a Turkish Airlines jet identified a faulty altitude sensor that thought the plane was closer to the ground than it was and triggered the engines to idle. The plane's second radio altimeter displayed the correct elevation, but it didn't matter: the automatic throttle was tied to the first gauge. The Amsterdam-bound plane crashed into a field, killing nine people and injuring 120.
Boeing ended up changing that throttle system to prevent one erroneous altitude reading from cascading into tragedy, changes the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration subsequently made mandatory.
Yet when the Max debuted in 2017...