US orders review of Boeing 737 Max

March 20, 2019
Washington:The US government has ordered a review of the way Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft got its licence to fly.

It comes after two crashes in five months, amid suggestions from experts that there were “clear similarities” between the disasters, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Transport Secretary Elaine Chao has asked the US Inspector General to audit the aircraft’s certification process.

One focus of crash investigators has been the Max’s anti-stall system, which Boeing says needs a software update.

In a memo to Inspector General Calvin Scovel, Chao said she wanted the review in order to “assist the Federal Aviation Administration (the regulator) in ensuring that its safety procedures are implemented effectively”.

After the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft on March 10 which followed a Lion Air disaster in October, there were questions about why the FAA took so long to ground the 737 Max.

According to reports, the US Justice Department has also begun preliminary inquiries into the FAA’s oversight of the Boeing aircraft.

Meanwhile, Europe and Canada said they would seek their own assurances over the safety of the aircraft, a move likely to complicate plans to get the aircraft flying again across the world.

European and Canadian regulators have typically tended to follow the FAA’s lead.

The European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA promised its own deep look at any design improvements.

“We will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions,” EASA executive Patrick Ky told an EU parliament committee hearing.

Canada, which ground the aircraft before the US, said it would independently certify the 737 Max in the future, rather than accepting FAA validation.

The FAA declined to comment on individual actions by Canada and the EU, but said in a statement that “the current, historic aviation safety record in the US and globally is achieved through the FAA’s robust processes and full collaboration with the aviation community”.

The two crashes killed 346 people. While there is no conclusive evidence so far that they are linked, French experts analysing the Ethiopian Airlines’ flight data black box say early investigations point to “clear similarities”.

Experts believe a new automated system in Boeing’s aircraft – intended to stop stalling by dipping the nose – may have played a role in both crashes, with pilots unable to override it.

Boeing said in a statement that it would fully cooperate with the inspector general’s review.

Congress faces alliance troubles (Dangal 2019)
(15:35)
New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) The Congress appears to be caught between its goal of defeating the ruling NDA in the Lok Sabha elections and expanding its own base in various states, leading to its failure to seal crucial alliances including in Bihar.

The Congress has also fielded candidates on two seats won by the CPI-M in West Bengal in 2014 and has rejected the “no contest in sitting seats” offer of the Marxists, after the seat sharing talks broke off.

The party has also not been able to reach an understanding with the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir and appears to be in two minds vis-a-vis the AAP in Delhi.

In Bihar, which is crucial for the possibility of post-poll alignments, the two major constituents of Grand Alliance – the RJD and Congress – have not come to an understanding yet despite many rounds of talks at various levels.

Under pressure from other allies, the RJD is apparently not keen to give more than nine of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state to Congress but the latter is keen to contest at least 11.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents, on the other hand, have decided not only the numbers but also specific seats they would contest in Bihar.

In West Bengal, the Congress on Monday night announced candidates for Raiganj and Mushirabad, seats on which CPI-M has sitting MPs and where it has announced candidates. Former Union Minister Deepa Dasmunsi will contest from Raiganj while Abu Hena would be the party candidate from Murshidabad.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Mohammad Salim defeated Dasmunsi by a slender margin in 2014 while Badaruddoza Khan entered the Lok Sabha from Murshidabad. The CPI-M is now likely to field candidates on seats won by the Congress.

A senior RJD leader told IANS said that their patience was running out and if the Congress does not take a decision soon, they may not be together in the alliance.

“There are so many other parties that are part of the Grand Alliance and they have to be accommodated. I am surprised the Congress is not looking at the larger goal of defeating the BJP. We cannot wait indefinitely as we have to go ahead with seat distribution and campaign,” he said.

He said that in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which the Congress and the RJD fought together, the former had contested on 12 seats and the latter had on 27.

The Congress does not appear to have taken a final view on a possible alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. While some of its leaders favour this to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, many others want to contest alone.

And in Kashmir, the National Conference has refused a tie-up with the Congress in the Valley but said it was open to seat sharing in Ladakh and Jammu region.

IANS

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