The unfortunate accident of Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 on March 10 resulted in the groundings of this type of aircraft, even in the US. The Federal Aviation Administration had initially stood by the aircraft, strongly insisting there was insufficient evidence to link this latest crash to another accident also involving a Boeing MAX 8 in Indonesia five months ago. But notwithstanding, it too has decided to ground the plane.

Both planes were brand new but still went down shortly after takeoff. Despite the onslaught against this most successful model in Boeing’s history in various countries around the globe, Donald Trump, as usual, was the first to undermine efforts to present a united US front by questioning the safety of new aircraft. He wrote on Twitter: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly.”

A preliminary report on Indonesia’s Lion Air disaster, which plunged into the sea after takeoff, found that a stall prevention feature had erroneously kicked in. With nothing significant about the cause of the latest crash in Ethiopia, the aviation world is still divided whether these models are really safe to fly.

Have pilots become complacent and their expertise eroded by a reliance on automatic systems? According to an expert, “automation has been extremely beneficial and will continue to be so but it should be in conjunction with the pilots. Algorithms can’t work out every eventuality.”


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