No Boeing B737 Max aircraft flying over or to Sri Lanka
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is monitoring the safety issue of Boeing B737 Max aircraft after a crash in Ethiopia, but no aircraft is overflying or landing in the island at the moment, Director General of Civil Aviation H M C Nimalsiri said.
No domestic carrier operates Boeing B737 – 8 aircraft and six operators who flew the model to Bandaranaike International Airport have grounded the aircraft.
India has also banned the model from its skies, effectively blocking the entry to Sri Lanka, Nimalsiri said,
Sri Lanka is monitoring the situation and will take further steps once the more information on the cause of the crash is available, he said.
The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines B737 Max aircraft was the second such crash of the type, which is a new aircraft.
A similar aircraft owned by Lionair of Indonesia crashed in October 2018. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive (AD) for Boeing model B738-8 and 9 aircraft a month later.
The aircraft was built with the engines which were larger than earlier 737 models, which were fixed further forward to gain ground clearance. But it tended to worsen pitch characteristics if the aircraft was moving in an acute angle as the engines tended to generate lift.
Boeing installed software called Maneuvering Characteristics Automation System (MCAS), to automatically counter the effect, which may have been defective and also confused pilots. Boeing had also come under fire for not clearly telling pilots about the MCAS in the flight manual. The AD was expected to address the problem.
"This action was prompted by analysis performed by the manufacturer showing that if an erroneously high single AOA (angle of attack) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer," the FAA said.
"This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain.
"We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design."
The AD required pilots to be retrained. However, there had been concerns whether the FAA under President Donald Trump has been lax due to nationalism, which had been accompanied by attacks on institutional independence, making the issue a political hot potato.
The FAA finally grounded the aircraft on March 13 saying there were similarities between the two crashes. It promised a new AD mandating "flight control system enhancements" to the aircraft and changes to operating manuals.
Ethiopia has said it is sending the flight recorders of the crashed plane to France where Airbus is based for for analysis.
In the past, accidents have occurred because operators outside the manufacturer’s country did not follow airworthiness directives. (Colombo/Mar13/2019 – updated with FAA grounding/continous AD-SB)