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Recent 737 MAX 8 crashes and effects on AA 737 MAX 8s (NOT reaccommodation)

Recent 737 MAX 8 crashes and effects on AA 737 MAX 8s (NOT reaccommodation)

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This thread is dedicated to the effect on AA from the October 29, 2018 and March 10, 2019 crashes if two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively.

To discuss reaccommodation by AA subsequent to the grounding of all Boeing MAX 8s and 9s by the US Federal Aviation Administration on 13 March 2019, please refer to 737 MAX grounded 13 Mar 2019. What to do if you were supposed to fly on one?


13 March 2019: All US airline Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft are grounded by US Federal Aviation Administration emergency order. AA has removed all 737 MAX 8 from scheduling through 19 August 2019.

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The thread regarding the 10 March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines ET 302 737 MAX 8 crash out of Adis Ababa is Ethiopian Airlines: Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes on way to Kenya [ET302 ADD-NBO 10MAR19]. Link.

The thread regarding the 29 October 2018 Lion Air JT 610 737 MAX 8 crash out of Jakarta is Lion Air flight from Jakarta has crashed
. Link.

American Airlines ordered 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (7M8) with options for 60 more. The first 737 MAX -8 flew at the assembly facility in Renton, WAshington, USA on 29 Jan 2016. Deliveries to AA commenced in late in 2017, with four delivered in 2017,16 more during 2018, with 20 more to be delivered during 2019. IATA code B38M; AA code "7M8".

Link to the story of how 737 MAX’ birth in the DFW Admirals Club and the forces that shaped it.

29 October 2018: Indonesian carrier Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29 crashed into the sea soon after takeoff with the loss of all aboard, apparently due to the erroneous data from a faulty Angle of Attack sensor, which caused the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) to assume the plane was about to stall, which activated the downward force on the Stabilizer Trim to get the nose down. Link to BBC article.

Link to Aviation Herald discussion.

Link to FlyerTalk airline forum thread regarding this incident.

“Instead of switching off the Stabilizer Trim the pilots appear to have battled the system.” Link

This aircraft had been written up as having a faulty AOA indicator for the previous three flights it had taken. It is unclear if Lion Air had performed adequate maintenance procedures after the reports or withdraw the aircraft from service until the fault could be completely cleared.

7 November 2018: The US Federal Aviation Administration / FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD note) covering the AOA within a few days, giving US airlines 30 days to comply with the AD.

7 November 2018: Boeing issued revised operating instructions covering the revised MCAS used in the MAX 8, updating the MAX operations manual. See the manual update and the switches referenced in this post.

See “What is the Boeing 737 MAX Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System?”, updated November 17 to explain the MCAS and electric trim override operation, here: link.

10 March 10, 2019: An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 departing Addis Ababa to Nairobi turned back to the airport soon after takeoff, but crashed with the loss of all aboard.

Link to BBC article.

Link to Aviation Herald discussion.

Link to FlyerTalk airline forum thread regarding this incident.

10 March 10, 2019: The US National Transportation Board / NTSB has dispatched an investigation team, as have Boeing, to Addis Ababa to assist the Ethiopian investigators in determining the cause(s) of the crash. The “black boxes” (cockpit voice and the flight data recorder have been recovered.

A revised MCAS is in the works, and the FAA is expected to issue an AD note when the MCAS update is done. This is expected to occur in May, 2019.

11 March 2019: China grounded its 737 MAX 8 (not MAX 9) fleet.

11 March 2019: the US FAA stated it would not ground US (AA, AS, UA, WN) 737 MAX aircraft at this time.

Link to FAA Airworthiness Notification for USA registered B38M aircraft PDF.

Link to Wall Street Journal article.

11 March 2019: AA APFA Flight Attendant union spokesperson asked AA to ground the MAX 8s. (TPG)

11 March 2019: AA pilots through their APA union have requested passengers allow the investigators do their work and refrain from jumping to conclusions. “We caution against speculation about what may have caused this tragic accident,” the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement. (TPG)

12 March 2019: The nation members of the European Union, the United Kingdom and several other nations ban their airlines’ operation, and other airlines’ overflight or flights, of the B38M aircraft. Link to New York Times article.

12 March 2019: Other USA airlines operating 737 MAX aircraft (of all types) are United (UA), Southwest (WN). AS has ordered the MAX 9, but deliveries have not yet been made.

Link to The Points Guy “how to tell if you’re flying a 737 MAX 8” article

13 March 2019: American Airlines pilots’ union APA issues statement in support of the AA B38M: “The AA APA spokesman says AA's MAX 8s have additional indicators on the planes, which others do not have. He says they're the only ones equipped with TWO AOA displays - one for each pilot. This, I guess, is why AA feels they can keep flying the MAX 8. The spokesman said he felt UA and SW (WN) were getting these added to their MAX planes. “ - Econometrics

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/1...ilot-says.html

13 March 2019: Canada grounds Canadian B38M aircraft. The US is the sole remaining nation to allow operation of the 737 MAX 8. Link to USA Today article.

13 March 2019: US Federal Aviation Administration issues emergency order for immediate grounding all USA airline operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft, effectively immediately. Link NYT story.

13 March 2019: American Airlines issues announcement of 7M8 grounding. Link to PDF. According to AA:

On average, American operates 85 flights per day on the MAX 8, out of 6,700 departures throughout the American Airlines system. Our operations center is working to re-route aircraft throughout the system to cover as much of our schedule as we can.
13 March 2019: AA issues policy allowing those scheduled for 7M8 flights through April 4 to refund or change without fees for cancellations, or to make free changes to their flight plans. See the thread linked to at the top of this Wiki for a link.

14 March 2019: It is announced the French BEA will retrieve the data from the Ethiopian Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder.

Link to Eight things you might not know about black boxes
By Cristen Tilley, ABC Australia

15 March 2019: BBC article states FAA says the MAX will not be cleared for flight at least until May. Link to story.

15 March 2019: On the other hand, CNBC states Boeing will have the anti-stall software update for the MAX ready in ten days, and that the FAA is expected to sign off on the modification on March 25, 2019.

Currently, AA has removed the 737 MAX 8 aircraft from scheduling through 19 August 2019. The FAA must clear the MAX before it can fly again. AA has 24 MAX 8s grounded and has canceled 115 daily flights as a result. 30 April 2019

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Old Mar 12, 19, 12:11 pm
  #241  
 
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Originally Posted by lobo411 View Post
Speaking as someone with zero knowledge myself, I'd say that it's because the MACS system is both useful and necessary to safely operate the aircraft. There are lots of systems in any piece of technology that can be dangerous if used improperly. For example: in the Olden Days, you used to have to pump the brakes in an emergency situation to keep them from locking up. ABS became standard 30-40 years ago, so nobody pumps their brakes now because doing so actually makes things worse. But for the first 20 years after ABS, old people would still pump based on experience.
In theory, the MCAS system is a valuable safety aid to prevent the aircraft from stalling. It is designed to trim the nose down before the aircraft stalls if an excessive AoA is reached. However, the problem is that it is vulnerable to being mistriggered if an AoA sensor itself fails in a mode that causes it to read high (rather than, for example, reading zero or just sticking at the last reading). In that scenario, the auto-pilot will disengage and the nose will be trimmed pitch down. On large aircraft, where trim is achieved by moving the whole horizontal stabilizer, the trim authority is greater than the elevator authority. Therefore, it is likely that no amount of pulling back of the yoke will stop the ensuing dive - rather, the trim itself has to be adjusted. However, doing this only stops the dive for a short period (ten seconds I believe) before the MCAS dives again. The only sure fix is to disable the trim system completely (though the original FAA service bulletin also mentioned manually grabbing the trim wheel as a last, last resort if even this step failed).

So, in theory, a false MCAS activation is recoverable. However, put yourself in the position of this happening when you are 1,000 ft above the ground with only a few seconds to work out what is wrong and take the correct action. It might be easier if you had a nice message pop up to say that the AoA sensors weren't operating correctly. Unfortunately, this message is apparently only enabled if the airline has paid Boeing extra to get the AoA display option, even though it's only a software function.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 12:19 pm
  #242  
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A Wikipost has been added with salient facts and links. It will be updated periodically. If anyone has an update or suggested change, please contact JDiver by PM, or use the Moderator notification syste,.

For those who want to keep up with the investigations on the Lion Air and Ethiopian B38M flights, a very good source is Aviation Herald.

Lion Air discussion link

Ethiopian discussion link

At this time,

Boeing issued an amendment to the 737 MAX 8 / B38M operating manual in early November.

The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive pertaining to the AOA indicator at the beginning of November, with 30 days for USA airlines to comply.

The NTSB and Boeing have sent investigators to assist Ethiopian investigators, and both cockpit recorder and flight data recorder from ET 302.

China grounded all 737 MAX Chinese airline operated aircraft.

The US FAA has declined to ground USA based 737 MAX aircraft. Link to PDF.

The EU has grounded all 737 MAX aircraft.

The APFA AA flight attendants’ union has requested AA ground AA 7M8 / B38M aircraft.

The ALPA AA pilots’ union has asked passengers refrain from jumping to conclusions and allow investigators to do their job.

Link to article: “How to Tell If You’re Flying on a Boeing 737 MAX in North America”, by JT Genter, The Points Guy, 11 March 2019

Below: stabilizer trim disengagement switches

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Last edited by JDiver; Mar 12, 19 at 1:31 pm
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Old Mar 12, 19, 12:53 pm
  #243  
 
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I am going to BGI from JAX with a connection in MIA. The MIA-BGI is on a 737 MAX in both directions. On the days I am flying there is no option to go through CLT instead and there are no other AC that operate on this route. If I changed the date and try to go through CLT there is a hefty change fee and a fare differential. I called AA about this today and asked about my options. At first the CR told me that AA was in the process of grounding the planes. Then he put me on hold. Came back and said that the planes on this route were safe and I had nothing to worry about. I then countered with the fact that if all the planes were safe, why was AA allowing crew to opt out of flying on these AC? He said that he was not aware of this and I should not believe everything I read. I asked if I could get a refund and was told I had a non-refundable ticket that was good for a year to fly on the same route. I countered that with only to fly on the same AC.
I may try again to get a refund or to get vouchers and then book on Jet Blue. The schedule is not as convenient but they don't fly the 737 MAX.
Does anyone have any other suggestions.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 12:57 pm
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Apparently, the flight attendants for AA want for the Max plane to be grounded for now. https://seekingalpha.com/news/344196...r=1#email_link
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:02 pm
  #245  
 
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EASA bans 737MAX, that covers all EU countries...perhaps we should track the reverse at this point and just list the Countries still allowing airlines to fly the 737MAX
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
I am going to BGI from JAX with a connection in MIA. The MIA-BGI is on a 737 MAX in both directions. On the days I am flying there is no option to go through CLT instead and there are no other AC that operate on this route. If I changed the date and try to go through CLT there is a hefty change fee and a fare differential. I called AA about this today and asked about my options. At first the CR told me that AA was in the process of grounding the planes. Then he put me on hold. Came back and said that the planes on this route were safe and I had nothing to worry about. I then countered with the fact that if all the planes were safe, why was AA allowing crew to opt out of flying on these AC? He said that he was not aware of this and I should not believe everything I read. I asked if I could get a refund and was told I had a non-refundable ticket that was good for a year to fly on the same route. I countered that with only to fly on the same AC.
I may try again to get a refund or to get vouchers and then book on Jet Blue. The schedule is not as convenient but they don't fly the 737 MAX.
Does anyone have any other suggestions.
How long until your trip? I would just hang up and call again a few times until you get the answer you want. There was at least one report of someone being able to get the change fee waived.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:04 pm
  #247  
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Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
I am going to BGI from JAX with a connection in MIA. The MIA-BGI is on a 737 MAX in both directions. On the days I am flying there is no option to go through CLT instead and there are no other AC that operate on this route. If I changed the date and try to go through CLT there is a hefty change fee and a fare differential. I called AA about this today and asked about my options. At first the CR told me that AA was in the process of grounding the planes. Then he put me on hold. Came back and said that the planes on this route were safe and I had nothing to worry about. I then countered with the fact that if all the planes were safe, why was AA allowing crew to opt out of flying on these AC? He said that he was not aware of this and I should not believe everything I read. I asked if I could get a refund and was told I had a non-refundable ticket that was good for a year to fly on the same route. I countered that with only to fly on the same AC.
I may try again to get a refund or to get vouchers and then book on Jet Blue. The schedule is not as convenient but they don't fly the 737 MAX.
Does anyone have any other suggestions.
At this time, AA is not offering waivers to those booked on B38M aircraft. Pilots are well aware of the MCAS and AOA indicator (already covered by the FAA AD note issued in November) situations and believe they can deal with it competently.

Unless you purchased a changeable fare or within the last 24 hours, there’s not much you can do about AA other than wait and see if AA offers a travel waiver or changes aircraft - e.g. chooses to ground the 24 aircraft it has currently, change your travel to another time or cancel, incurring fees. The latter would be in the case you choose to fly B6. Unless you can persuade someone at AA or the policy changes.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:19 pm
  #248  
 
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
How long until your trip? I would just hang up and call again a few times until you get the answer you want. There was at least one report of someone being able to get the change fee waived.
We leave on 4/27 and return on 5/17. We have non refundable business class tickets. No seats CLT to BGI in J (need 3) and does not operate BGI to CLT on 5/17.
Cannot change dates as it is a timeshare.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:21 pm
  #249  
 
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Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
We leave on 4/27 and return on 5/17. We have non refundable business class tickets. No seats CLT to BGI in J (need 3) and does not operate BGI to CLT on 5/17.
Cannot change dates as it is a timeshare.
Well, luckily you have plenty of time so I would give it a few days, try calling back a few more times, and wait and see if AA or the FAA change their tune. Pretty much the rest of the world has grounded the plane at this point.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:30 pm
  #250  
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Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
We leave on 4/27 and return on 5/17. We have non refundable business class tickets. No seats CLT to BGI in J (need 3) and does not operate BGI to CLT on 5/17.
Cannot change dates as it is a timeshare.
I doubt you’ll have to wait that long for significant announcements - the B38M has been grounded, or they’re cleared by the FAA.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:31 pm
  #251  
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Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
I am going to BGI from JAX with a connection in MIA. <snip> Does anyone have any other suggestions.
WHEN?

If you're not scheduled to fly in the next few days, then my suggestion is to relax a bit. I would expect some "resolution" in that time frame after Boeing/regulators/airlines have gotten some initial data from the black boxes and they can make a "more" educated decision about whether the 2 incidents were in any way related to each other or to the general airworthiness of the aircraft. Further, external non-regulatory pressure (e.g., bookings, crew) may even drive AA/WN to (1) remove the planes from service temporarily, or even less severely (2) waive change fees and possibly fare differences for rebookings.
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Last edited by ijgordon; Mar 12, 19 at 1:41 pm Reason: Oh, guess I'm a little slow on pressing "post"!
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:35 pm
  #252  
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
Well, luckily you have plenty of time so I would give it a few days, try calling back a few more times, and wait and see if AA or the FAA change their tune. Pretty much the rest of the world has grounded the plane at this point.
USA and Canada. Congressional pressure is also on.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 1:57 pm
  #253  
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Either the a/c is going to be cleared to fly or grounded within the next few days. There's too much pressure for the FAA not to make a definitive issue. Even if grounded that could be short-lived. Boeing will spare no expense to get this a/c clear to fly because the financial aftermath from airlines suing Boeing (or invoking certain contract clauses for damage) will be huge. Not to mention it's reputation.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 2:04 pm
  #254  
 
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737 Flight controls

For anyone who is interested, here is a slide set on the 737 flight control systems: https://www.slideshare.net/theoryce/...light-controls
The bits relevant to elevator trim are around the middle. Note that this is for the 737 NG, so doesn't mention MCAS which was only added on the 737 MAX, but everything else is I believe still applicable.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by dmsdfw View Post
In theory, the MCAS system is a valuable safety aid to prevent the aircraft from stalling. It is designed to trim the nose down before the aircraft stalls if an excessive AoA is reached. However, the problem is that it is vulnerable to being mistriggered if an AoA sensor itself fails in a mode that causes it to read high
What I read over on PPRune (so not authoritative) is that the 737MAX MCAS only reads from a single AOA vane (even though the aircraft is equipped with two). In my layperson’s opinion, that seems like really poor design and if true, I’d wager it becomes the crux of the whole shooting match.

edited to add - Hearing now that redundant MCAS sensors is what the software update aims to fix. It is simply unfathomable how it made it into production, this is Engineering 101.

Last edited by SouthernCross; Mar 12, 19 at 3:30 pm
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