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Boeing’s 737 MAX takes its next step to re-enter commercial service

The Thaiger

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Boeing’s 737 MAX takes its next step to re-enter commercial service | The Thaiger
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The US Federal Aviation Administration has approved the next step for the beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX to resume commercial flights after a 20 month grounding. But the factors that partly contributed to the plane’s grounding have not been addressed leaving the plane reliant on software to control its flying characteristics.

The plane, a fourth generation makeover of 50 year old design, was the best-selling jet in the Boeing fleet. All 737 MAX jets were grounded in March 2019 after 2 fatal crashes killing 346 people, including all passengers and crew on the fateful flights. The MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) software, which have been added as a safety feature to stop the plane from climbing too fast and stalling, had acted contrary to its design and ended up forcing the nose of the plane down, giving the pilots no hope of controlling it.

The software had been added to the development of the new model as the new, larger engines had to moved forward on the wing to still allow enough ground clearance… the end result being that plane’s critical flight balance had been altered. You can identify a Boeing 737 MAX easily with its large twin winglets at the end of each wing.

Boeing's 737 MAX takes its next step to re-enter commercial service | News by The Thaiger

The grounding of the 737 MAX has cost Boeing more than $20 billion. Lost orders for the plane, alone, could make it among the most expensive mistakes ever made by a corporation. The cost to Boeing’s reputation is incalculable as it dodged and weaved to avoid taking blame for the crashes in the early phases of the investigation.

But the US FAA action is only the first step in permitting the 59 airlines, which already own and fly the 387 grounded planes, to get them off the ground again with paying customers. Before any of the jets can be flown with passengers again there are a number of steps the airlines must undertake. All the alterations to the software deign has to be installed and checked, in every plane. FAA officials must inspect each plane and the pilots will have to complete additional training.

When the 737 MAX first took to the air, one of the marketing plusses was that existing 737 pilots wouldn’t need retraining – an expensive part of any new plane. But the pilots weren’t told about this new MCAS software that had the potential to wrest control from the pilots. When matched with faulty data from the airspeed tube, the MCAS would erroneously keep pointing the nose of the aircraft down. And it would keep doing it without the confused pilots knowing how to turn it off.

Boeing removed a description of MCAS in the MAX flight manuals during certification, leaving pilots unaware of the system when the airplane entered service.

Will you be happy to fly on a Boeing MAX jet? Comment below.

On November 10, 2018, 12 days after a Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the sea off Jakarta, Boeing publicly revealed MCAS in a discussion with airline operators. Yet, although Boeing and the FAA were now aware of the possible software conflicts on the model, they failed to prevent the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The second crash led to the global grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft.

The process to bring all existing planes and pilots up to speed could take between a few weeks up to a few months, depending on the airline.

Family members of the passengers who died in the crashes have objected to the return to service for the 737 MAX. They claim Boeing made mistakes in the design of the 737 MAX, which made their version dangerous. They also cast doubt on the FAA who made mistakes approving the original version and, now, allowing it to fly again.

An investigation into how to fix the 737 MAX’s problems was expected to be finished by September 2019, but stretched on and on as new problems were found.

Even US FAA Administrator Steve Dicksons said that the path to this point was long and grueling.

“But we said from the start that we would take the time necessary to get this right. We were never driven by a timeline, but rather following a methodical and deliberate safety process. During this time FAA employees diligently worked on the fixes that were necessary.”

As part of the review process Dickson flew the plane himself in September, and went through the training pilots will have to complete.

“I can tell you now I am 100% comfortable with my family flying on it.”

The recertification situation in the US could be matched by other aviation authorities around the world who will likely follow suit and begin the process of allowing the international MAX fleet back into the sky. Most of the 387 grounded planes are outside of the US.

In Thailand, only Thai Lion Air have received 3 of the planes although Nok Air have also ordered 6. Regionally, VietJet Air have ordered 200 of the model, but not received them yet. Silk Air ordered 37 and have received 6. Malaysian Airlines ordered 25. Lion Air (Indonesia) ordered 250 and have received 14 so far. Some of these orders may be altered as airlines re-evaluate their needs and financial situation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Denis

    November 19, 2020 at 10:08 am

    I will never put my butt in a 737 Max, despite all the certifications in the world. Here in Thailand, it is mainly LION AIR which has a large fleet of 737 Max. If Lion Air put them back in service, it would be bye bye Lion Air;)

    • Avatar

      SG666

      November 19, 2020 at 2:11 pm

      Totally agree.

    • Avatar

      RA

      November 19, 2020 at 2:33 pm

      But I bet you would put your butt on a motorbike here in Thailand.

  2. Avatar

    Khun plastic

    November 20, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    people nowadays only care about price,if it’s cheap enough you will get bums on seats.

    Most do not know or care about aircraft type.

    i will wait for 6 months before I board one.

    other folks can be the canaries in the cage.

    They said the same things about the dc-10 but people have very short memorys.once it was fixed they were pretty good,will be same deal here probably..

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Transport

State Railway officials sign 5 high-speed rail contracts as part of project linking Thailand and China

Maya Taylor

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State Railway officials sign 5 high-speed rail contracts as part of project linking Thailand and China | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wei Kakurai / Wikimedia

Officials from the State Railway of Thailand have signed 5 high-speed rail contracts worth more than 40 billion baht, in the latest development in the Thailand – China rail connection. It’s understood the contracts cover phase 1 of the railway, from Bangkok to the north-eastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat).

It’s hoped that section will carry its first passengers in 2023 and that the line will eventually reach further north, to Nong Khai, and from there, link with a rail connection connecting Laos and China. The high-speed trains will run at speeds up to 250 kilometres an hour.

Nation Thailand reports that the contract signing took place at the Transport Ministry, between SRT governor Nirut Maneephan and the 5 contractors, Nawarat Patanakarn, Thai Engineer Industry, Italian – Thai Development, SPTK Joint Venture, and Civil Engineering. In total, the project will involve over 100 kilometres of railway, with a budget of 40.275 billion baht. The first phase of construction involves 14 contracts, with work under the first one completed and ongoing under the second.

Nirut say the 5 new contractors are expected to take delivery of the land in early 2021, with the 7 remaining contracts being signed next year.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Transport

Only taxis travelling to and from Bangkok airports can charge for luggage

The Thaiger

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Only taxis travelling to and from Bangkok airports can charge for luggage | The Thaiger

The Land Transport Department is clarifying the recent news that taxis in Bangkok can charge special handling fees for luggage after the announcement received public scrutiny. The department’s deputy director Tanee Suebrerk says this special fee only applies to metred taxis travelling to and from Bangkok’s two airports.

He says that those taxis who do not deliver passengers or pick them up from the 2 airports cannot charge the special fee. Tanee further clarified the legal jargon of the new fees with the details below:

• 20 baht for every bag that measures 26 inches in width, height or length.

• 20 baht for every additional item of luggage after the first 2.

• No more than 100 baht per piece for sports equipment such as bikes, or musical instruments that are 50 inches or more in size.

• No more than 100 baht for tools, appliances, or equipment that measure 50 inches or more in size. Additionally, the taxi driver is required to notify the passenger in advance about the extra fees. Carry-on baggage cannot be counted under the charges. Such carry-on items include laptop cases, purses, backpacks or personal belongings.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Tourism

Over 5 million escape Bangkok by car and public transport as holiday begins

Maya Taylor

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Over 5 million escape Bangkok by car and public transport as holiday begins | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Connor Williams on Unsplash

The Transport Ministry says just under 5.3 million Bangkok residents have left the capital as the long holiday gets underway. Anon Luangboriboon says the exodus began on Wednesday, a day before the holiday period began. The Bangkok Post reports that the figures include those travelling by car and public transport, with 2.25 million leaving by bus and van. Anon says that number is 1.12% less than anticipated. However, 2.74 million personal cars have headed out of the capital, which is nearly 40% higher than expected.

The 4 day long weekend was announced 2 months ago as substitute holidays for Songkran and attempts to get Thais and expats, able to get the time off, to travel and stimulate the domestic travel economy.

Public transport services are understood to be running smoothly and at adequate levels, and there have been no reports of significant traffic congestion. The state-owned bus service, Transport Company, says that on Wednesday, it laid on 4,502 bus and van services, accommodating over 63,000 travellers. Yesterday, the number rose to 6,000 bus services and 200,000 passengers.

The Transport Minister, Saksayam Chidchob, says officials expect the number of travellers making inter-provincial trips to rise by more than 6%, or over 2 million people. He says all public transport services will comply with Covid-19 safety measures – wearing face masks and social distancing.

Meanwhile, 38 road traffic accidents were reported on Wednesday as travel got underway. 5 people have been killed and 44 injured. Saksayam says most accidents occurred in Bangkok and the central provinces of Pathum Thani and Saraburi, as people travelled from the capital to the north and north-east.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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