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Boeing 737 MAX 8 Safety: Lawyer Backs Changes But Warns Move ‘Raises Further Questions’

Aviation Giant Confirms Upgrades To Aircraft Involved In Crashes


Specialist aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed Boeing’s decision to introduce changes to control systems on its 737 MAX 8 aircraft, but added that the move also raises further important questions that need to be addressed.

The aviation giant has confirmed that two ‘fixes’ are set to be introduced to the model, which was involved in both the fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October 2018 and more recently in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster earlier this month.

It is understood that the first change will see an extra warning system – which was once available only as an optional extra – added to the aircraft as standard. This will warn pilots if Angle of Attack sensors record differing data. These sensors are fitted to the aircraft and send crucial data to the aircraft’s flight computer system. If sensors record and transmit differing data this is likely to be due to a fault with a particular sensor. 

Secondly, the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software on the aircraft which is designed to prevent stalling is also being changed. Under the plans, the software will disable if there is conflicting information received from sensors.

During its briefing, Boeing stressed that the planned changes to the aircraft were not an admission that MCAS was responsible for the two recent crashes.

Boeing has also made changes to flight operations manuals to help pilots better understand the operation of the MCAS system.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation lawyers have vast experience in acting for those injured in air-related incidents, as well as representing families who have lost loved ones in air disasters across the globe.

Expert Opinion
“While investigations into both tragedies are still ongoing and there are no conclusions as to the precise causes of the crashes, we welcome the steps being taken by Boeing to improve safety on the 737 MAX 8.

“Despite these welcome improvements questions will rightly be asked as to why these improvements are only being made now and whether these two terrible aviation disasters could have been avoided if these simple steps had been taken earlier.

“The fundamental priority at this point remains understanding exactly what went wrong during these two flights. Nevertheless, it is highly likely that Boeing, a company with a world-wide reputation for their aircraft, will face some tough questions in the weeks and months to come.

“Every effort must now be made to ensure that the many families affected by the two recent tragedies involving this aircraft get the answers they deserve about what happened and what is being done to prevent similar tragedies happening again.”
Clive Garner, Partner

Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation law team has previously represented the families of passengers and crew killed following numerous aviation accidents around the world including:

  • The last fatal Ethiopian Airways crash, Flight 409 in 2010 which also involved a Boeing 737 and which resulted in the deaths of 90 passengers and crew following take off from Beirut;
  • Dana Air Flight 992 which crashed in Lagos, Nigeria in 2012 causing the deaths of 153 passengers and crew;  
  • Kenya Airways Flight KQ507 (again a Boeing 737) which crashed in Cameroon in 2007 killing 105 passengers; 
  • The German Wings tragedy; 
  • The Shoreham Airshow disaster; 
  • And many other aviation accidents in countries including Tanzania, Venezuela, Thailand, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland and the US.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Aviation Law.