Boeing is under multiple investigations–including a federal criminal probe–following two recent crashes of its 737 MAX 8 planes.
Lion Air Flight 620 took off from Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. Twelve minutes later, the plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.
Less than five months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 left Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, Mar. 10, 2019, and crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew.
Both crashed jets were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, a design some critics claim was a rushed version of a fuel-efficient and cost-effective plane designed by Airbus, a European airline manufacturer and Boeing’s chief competitor.
Several multinational agencies are scrutinizing the crashes, including the FBI and the U.S. Department of Transportation, which are looking into the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the MAX jets. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation, according to “The Seattle Times.”
While the reasons for the crash are currently unknown, the investigations can take months to reach a conclusion. Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters that there are “clear similarities” between the two crashes but did not elaborate.
According to officials with several pilots’ unions, one area of concern is proper training for pilots manning the 737 MAX. These pilots were not properly trained, as regulators determined that extensive training was not required, due to the fact that pilots could fly previous models, according to “The New York Times.” Several 737 MAX pilots complained about the lack of proper training, “The Dallas Morning News” reported, and details about how the 737 MAX differed from previous models were not fully disclosed.
The Boeing Max 8 introduced software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Boeing’s pilot training, in particular the lack of training on the MCAS, has come under scrutiny for replacing extensive, multi-million-dollar simulator training with a 13-page manual read on an iPad. Aviation experts argue the manual left out important information on how to use the MCAS.
Investigators stated that a fault in the sensors may have occurred, which fed incorrect data to MCAS, putting the nose of the plane into a dive. On Nov. 6, 2018, Boeing issued a safety warning and notified 737 MAX pilots of this issue, as well as instructing them on how to turn off the MCAS.
Families mourning the loss of their loved ones who perished on the Lion Air Flight 620 claimed they were being pressured into signing a form pledging to not pursue legal action against Lion Air in in exchange for payments of 1.3 billion rupiah, or $91,600, according to “The New York Times.” This pledge appears to violate Indonesian law.