Are there any precedents for what is happening after the 737 MAX accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia?
A possible precedent is the crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 in March 1974. The accident took place in a forest near Paris when a failure in the anchoring system of a cargo hold door caused an explosive decompression that crashed to a DC-10 killing the 346 people who were on board. Two years earlier an American Airlines had had an identical problem but the hydraulic systems of the aircraft withstood the unbelief and there were no casualties. The authorities removed the flight license to the model leaving the fleet on the ground around the world. The investigation led to the largest civil claim for compensation in history.
Is it an exaggerated measure that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has closed European airspace in the wake of the incident in Ethiopia?
The consulted experts repeat that in the aeronautical industry the first premise is safety and therefore it is not an exaggerated measure. The number of passengers is colossal throughout the world. The number of annual passengers is already above 4,000 million and there have been annual periods in which the fatalities have not reached 50. This is a clear demonstration that the first thing is safety in all sectors that make up the industry : manufacturers, airlines, control agencies … Although this is a very important measure, there does not seem to be signs that there will be damage to a transport system that grows more than 4% every year.
At what point is the investigation at this time and what can be expected from it in the near future?
At this time, any hypothesis about the cause of the disaster is unfounded speculation. The investigations are carried out by the security agency of the country in which the accident takes place and the one of the country that has manufactured the airplane, in this case the NTSB of the United States. When you have the two black boxes the investigators have the causes of the accident taken by the reins in a matter of days. The full investigation will be longer but it is likely that security guidelines will be issued very quickly to lift the veto on the 737 MAX. The reason for this is that the NTSB investigators can not have more motivation to find the cause of the problem since it is a crucial aircraft in the main manufacturer in the United States and the repercussions for Boeing can be very serious.
What causes are considered possible at this time?
A Spanish engineer with experience in aerial accident investigations with fatalities believes that when an obvious human error is detected thanks to the recording of the pilots' conversations, such drastic measures as closing the airspace across Europe do not take place. This expert explains that the manufacturers, urged by the airlines, try to produce more and more competitive models that make the operations more and more efficient, achieving more payload. This is achieved by making the airplane structure and engine performance more efficient. At the end of the 80's, Airbus certified the 320 model, an airplane capable of automatically responding without the driver's contest to unload the structure of aerodynamic loads above parameters that put it in danger. Avionics systems have been greatly improved and are ultramodern. However, the cause could have been an error in the measurement systems that feed the computers that make such decisions or directly a malfunction of the aircraft software.
What role does the Boeing 737 play in global civil aviation?
This aircraft has been defined as "the cornerstone of civil aviation." It is the best-selling commercial airliner in history: last year the manufacturer held great festivities for the commissioning of the 10,000th unit. Its design began in 1964 and its first flight took place in April 1967. There are several versions that range from 85 to 215 passengers. One piece of information speaks volumes about the weight of this model in the industry: during its golden age in 2006 at any time there were 1,250 Boeing 737 in the air all over the world, two of them landing or taking off at airports. The 737 MAX 8 is the new set-up of the model incorporating many of the innovations that were designed for the 787 Dreamliner. Currently 370 units of the 737MAX have been registered, a model that is being bought with enthusiasm by the Asian low cost companies. According to the FlightRadar24 portal, the 737 MAX model made 8,500 flights around the world in the last week of February.