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Indonesia report faults Boeing, FAA for crash of 737 Max 8

By Clyde Hughes
Indonesia report faults Boeing, FAA for crash of 737 Max 8
Crew lift the recovered wheel carriage of Lion Air Flight 610 onto a vessel in the waters off Karawang, West Java, Indonesia, on November 4, 2018. File Photo by Fauzy Chaniago/EPA-EFE

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Indonesian investigators said in a report Friday the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 was caused by the automated flight system aboard the Boeing 737 Max 8 -- which the plane maker has been working to fix since the global fleet was grounded last spring.

The report by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee blames Boeing's design for the model's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System for the Oct. 29, 2018, crash that killed 189 passengers and crew.

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The analysis cites other factors including a faulty sensor, poor maintenance, lack of pilot training and the company failing to capitalize on earlier signs about the troubled system.

Investigators told victims' relatives Boeing's MCAS was improperly approved.

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The Lion Air flight and the crash of another Max 8 in Ethiopia five months later forced Boeing to ground the fleet. Nearly 350 people died in the accidents.

Indonesian investigators said the system responded to faulty sensor data and warned the pilots the plane was about to stall -- forcing the plane into a nosedive, which is standard procedure for a stall situation, as pilots fought to correct it.

Both Boeing and the FAA responded to the Indonesian report Friday.

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"We are addressing the [report's] safety recommendations, and taking actions to enhance the safety of the 737 MAX to prevent the flight control conditions that occurred in this accident from ever happening again," Boeing said.

"Safety is an enduring value for everyone at Boeing and the safety of the flying public, our customers, and the crews aboard our airplanes is always our top priority."

"We welcome the recommendations from this report and will carefully consider these and all other recommendations as we continue our review of the proposed changes to the Boeing 737 Max," the FAA said.

"The FAA is committed to ensuring that the lessons learned from the losses of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will result in an even greater level of safety globally."

A joint technical review to the FAA this month was critical of Boeing and the civil aviation agency for their procedures in approving the MCAS system.

"The FAA had inadequate awareness of the MCAS function which, coupled with limited involvement, resulted in an inability of the FAA to provide an independent assessment of the adequacy of the Boeing proposed certification activities associated with MCAS," that report said.

Friday's report blamed Boeing for failing to find and fix the problems, and the FAA for not requiring "a fail-safe design concept and redundant system."

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American and Southwest Airlines, the only two operators of the Max 8 in the United States, said this week they face combined losses of more than $1 billion due to the model's grounding.

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