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Boeing Responsible for Crashes

Boeing has taken the extraordinary step of accepting responsibility for the deadly Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines  airplane crashes that killed several hundred people.  Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, posted to Twitter today a letter and video in which he acknowledged fault.  Preliminary reports indicate that the 737 MAX’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.  Here is a part of Muilenburg’s statement:

The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports, but, with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident investigation, it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.

The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents. As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.

From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.

Boeing Apologizes

Mr. Muilenberg also apologized to the loved ones of the passengers and crew who died on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.  Boeing’s decision to have its CEO release a signed statement and video apology is laudable and should be emulated by other companies.  The decision does not absolve Boeing from liability for its decisions that put unreasonably dangerous airplanes in the skies. But it was the right move.

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