Belgium Has Banned The 737 MAX Until 2020 At The Earliest

Civil Aviation authorities in Belgium have banned the 737 MAX until 2020 at the earliest according to Air Transport World.

TUI_(Jetairfly)_Boeing_737-8_MAX-1
Four TUIfly 737 MAX are grounded at Brussels Airport. Photo: Wikipedia.

The watchdog for civil aviation in Belgium, the BCAA has decided to extend the ban on the 737 MAX flying in Belgium airspace until the end of the year. This decision is in line with the worldwide ban on the plane after the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October of 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March of this year.

In total 346 passengers and crew perished after both planes appeared to nose dive into the ground shortly after takeoff. Investigations are still underway, but both crashes are thought to have been caused by software that was designed to stop the plane from stalling.

Advertisement

Early testing revealed problems with the 737 MAX

Back in 2012, during the early days of testing the new 737 MAX, engineers working in Boeing’s transonic wind tunnel noticed that the model they were using had a tendency to lift its nose up during certain extreme maneuvers.

Advertisement
Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing’s 737 MAX MCAS solution. Photo:Boeing

Realizing there was an issue, they analyzed the data and came up with what they thought was a solution. This first fix failed, so the answer they came up with was a piece of software called Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

The way MCAS works is that when data sent from the angle of attack sensor to the plane’s flight computer suggests the aircraft is in danger of stalling, MCAS automatically swivels the aircraft’s horizontal tail to lower the nose.

Advertisement

Boeing’s solution for the 737 MAX

After the worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX, the Seattle Times interviewed many people involved with the program and reported that Boeing came up with the MCAS software as a simple solution to prevent the plane from stalling.

737-flight-deck
Boeing is now weighing up what new training pilots may need before the 737 MAX can fly again. Photo: Boeing

They even go so far to say that Boeing did a safety study and concluded that there was little risk of an MCAS failure. This assumption was based partly on the FAA-approved notion that should the MCAS activate unexpectedly, pilots would be able to respond within seconds.

Rather than requiring the input from two sensors, as was in the original design of the MCAS, they opted to go with just one as they calculated the probability of a malfunction to be unimaginable.

Boeing agreed not to tell pilots about the MCAS

In the rush to get the plane into production Boeing agreed not to tell pilots about the MCAS system in manuals. This was despite the fact that pilots were expected to take action should the MCAS activate unexpectedly.

Southwest-airlines-737-max
Southwest Airlines says 737 MAX will not fly before October. Photo: Mark Finlay/Flickr

Now we have all seen what can happen when the MCAS activates and pilots have not been trained to deal with it. Yet Boeing is still defending the MCAS, and refusing to accept the blame for the two deadly crashes.

As work continues to fix issues with the MCAS to ensure that there will be no more accidents, the Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing is now weighing up what new training pilots may need before the 737 MAX can fly again.

Following on from the news out of Belgium saying the 737 MAX is grounded until next year,  CNBC is saying that Southwest Airlines are extending their October 1st deadline for the jet’s return. This was in response to Boeing’s assessment last week, which said that it will take at least until September to fix the 737 MAX software issues.

According to the American business television network Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly said in an internal update,

“I’m sure this will cause us to have to take the MAX out of the schedule beyond Oct. 1,” adding that Southwest would also see “what other modifications we might need to make our plans for this year because it’s obviously extending well beyond what I had hoped.”

As the 737 MAX problem exacerbates, airlines operating the MAX have to wonder what this is doing to the public psyche. I for one will not fly on a MAX until the plane has been back in service for at least six months, and I know that pilots have received the proper training needed to fly the plane safely.

Let us know what you think about flying on the 737 MAX in the comment section below.

Advertisement

21
Leave a Reply

10 Comment threads
11 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Nigel

Excellent decision by Belgium!
And, as regards the Boeing management: “Au prison!”
Apart from avoiding the MAX from a safety point of view, the public might consider just boycotting it altogether as a jesture of solidarity to the 346 innocent victims of this wreck, and their families; that would send a very powerful message that the public is not going to tolerate corporate greed.

Frank

Boeing is truly irresponsible. I hope other countries will ban the 737 Max from flying their air space forever.

Farai Lioga

I personally won’t be setting foot on a MAX ever. My confidence confidence in the plan is gone and possibly re-branding/naming the plane is the only way I see Boeing getting the public’s trust again.

Yes it’s a money saver, but would you be proud as an airline owner to fly the plane again a week after it is declared ‘safe’?

Niklas Andersson

To big to fail ? does, Boeing will survive this 737 Max outcomes and the becoming 787 issues and Topics ?

We Hope new ” Fresh Executives managers ” that will allow to keep Boeing on Track… Otherwise…. It will be like Rover in UK… So bad and sad with all good engineer in Boeing.

Bob Braan

Don’t be surprised there are more delays as the FAA finds other catastrophic flaws in the 737 Max. They are finally doing their job, not just rubber stamping Boeing’s shoddy work. Instead of engines too far forward and up Boeing could have just extended the landing gear creating more ground clearance for the bigger engines so MCAS wasn’t needed. In fact the 737 Max 10 (not flying yet) has telescopic landing gear to create 9.5″ more ground clearance not because of the engines but because the 10 is so long the tail would hit the ground on takeoff unless the… Read more »

Frank

This is huge.
Eurocontrol is in Brussels. for those who don’t know what it means, there is a great video by Wendover on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1f2GwWLB3k

Everything, and I mean everything, that moves in the air in western Europe, goes through this center. No flights through Belgium means very bad news for Boeing. Europe will not fly the Max until 2020.

With the whole sub-contracting to India thing, the new FAA hardware/software thing and now this – I can’t imagine a worse time for Boeing (outside of the crash itself).

Frank

Oh – and I forgot the recently added falsified docs on the 787 for Air Canada, and the fact that the FAA is now looking at South Carolina and the Dreamliner.

Joanna Bailey

Yeah its all a bit of a mess…

Nigel

Although I appreciate the gist of what you’re saying, it is incorrect to say that most flights in Europe pass through Belgian airspace; like all ATC centers for high-level flights, Eurocontrol can coordinate flights at a considerable distance, well outside Belgium’s borders.
Some concrete examples of flights that do not pass through Belgium:
– Any flight between Ireland and Spain;
– Any flight between NL and the UK or Scandanavia. This includes one of the busiest routes in Europe (Dublin-Amsterdam).
– Any flight from Northern Germany going west, north or east.

But this is still an embarassing setback for the MAX!

Frank

Great! Now if you could just please calculate the amount of airlines in those specific countries you mentioned, how many Max’s they have ordered and the amount of routes they can use them on, we’ll have a firm idea of just how fcuked Boeing are. Point being, Nigel – while you have mentioned a few routes that the Max could possibly used on, I don’t think there is one airline in the world who wants to have an aircraft in their fleet that they cannot fly on certain routes because they are constrained by law. The only limitations an airline… Read more »

Nigel

Well, Ryanair have huge hubs in Dublin and Stansted, and Spain is a huge destination for them. Unfortunately, they have several hundred MAXs on order.
IAG have large activity in the countries mentioned, and they ordered 200 MAXs in Paris.
TUI have MAXs, and are big in the countries mentioned.
So we’ll need some further action by authorities to keep Europe gree of this MAX menace!

Joanna Bailey

For interest, Norwegian have 18, Turkish have 12, TUI 14 and Icelandair have 3. That’s not counting those carriers with MAX’s who are outside of Europe but would like to fly into or over our airspace. Then, of course, big leasing firms like ALC and GECAS have loads, which could end up anywhere.

Joanna Bailey

I love that wendover video 😍

Frank

That Wendover guy sure loves his aviation, as evidenced by the amount of videos he put’s out about it.

Joanna Bailey

Really knowledgeable too 🙂

NIGEL MEIGHAN

Boeing need to rebrand from the Boeing 737 MAX , to the Boeing 737 SUPER 7,8,9 & 10.

Frank

Personally, i think the 737 LawnDart would be better. Just a step ahead of the 737 WidowMaker.

Kent Driskill

Frank, B-737 “Lawn Dart” is appropriate. When I was in the Air Force there was an aircraft called the Aardvark cause it stuck its nose in the ground. The F-111.

Kent Driskill

I’m a retired electrical engineer and I will not fly on a Boeing 737 MAX even if the FAA re-certifies it. I know what the adage “…we’ll fix it in software … ” really means. Boeing has a lot more design changes to do here than just a “quick software patch”. By the way, where are are all the simulators for the MAX ? That’s right the airlines don’t have any. There’s only 2 for Boeing test pilots to use. The design process for the MAX has been unconscionable. People at Boeing and maybe the FAA should be going to… Read more »

Kevin

I’m encouraged to see that the regulators in some of the countries of the world are taking a very hard look at this aircraft and not just bowing to the FAA. Boeing has designed an unsafe aircraft and pushed it through a mini-certification from the FAA all because Airbus got the drop on them with the A320NEO. If you ‘peek behind the curtain’ of the 737 MAX you will quickly realize that Boeing has been playing games with the 737 for quite awhile now. Example: Boeing didn’t want to lengthen the main landing gear primarily because doing so would have… Read more »

somasundaram yamaraja

Yes, I would say indian Authorities should take 6 months breathing period before approving 737Max flights in India, after FAA approves. This is necessary considering the level of training pilots