Looking for clues to the Boeing 737 Max 8 crash
A growing number of countries and airlines are grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after the second crash within six months of a plane from this series in Ethiopia on the weekend. Air travel experts suspect a software error is to blame. Boeing has announced plans to fix the problem with an update. How safe is the technology?
The technology has become too complex
Boeing perhaps clung for too long to the 737 series, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung surmises:
“Instead of developing something entirely new for the top-selling short and medium-haul aircraft segment, the company once again opted to revamp an older series. That was cheaper, as the cost of developing a new model runs into the billions. Time was pressing too, after all Airbus had announced the introduction of a fuel-saving model with its A320neo. And with new technology the old model has indeed been improved. However, the gain in terms of fuel efficiency had a drawback. Although the cause of the accidents haven't yet been clarified: airplanes have become increasingly complex. But what good is modern technology if it can't always be controlled by humans?”
Humans overrate themselves
Polityka argues that fingers have been pointed too soon:
“It is suspected that the cause of the accident lies in the system. ... But even if that was the case, the other source of error is clear: the wrong speed and angle of attack. The machine works on the basis of this data. Why were they perhaps erroneous? The investigative commission [for the crash in Indonesia in October] is looking at whether the setting for the angle of attack which the captain entered on the screen differed substantially from that made by his co-pilot. ... Large companies are increasingly building planes that can be piloted by people without any flying experience. And they will continue to crash, because as it turns out humans think they're more intelligent than computers.”