- Boeing admitted that it knew of a safety issue with its 737 Max 8s, the model involved in both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, and did not report it until after the Lion Air accident.
- Boeing discovered that many of its Max 8s did not have a key safety feature that determined when the plane was receiving conflicting data from its sensors, because the company had made that feature an optional premium add-on.
- The company claims this feature is not essential, but others argue that it could have prevented the crashes because conflicting sensor data caused both planes to repeatedly nosedive after an automated system was triggered.
Boeing released a statement Sunday saying that the company was aware of a problem with a safety feature in its 737 Max 8s in 2017, but did not disclose the issue to regulators or airlines until after a Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashed in October 2018, killing 189.
The announcement also comes nearly two months after another Max 8, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed just outside of Addis Ababa. That crash killed all 157 people on board.
According to the statement, within a few months of delivering the Max 8 planes to buyers, Boeing’s engineers found a problem with an essential warning light. The feature, which is called an Angle of Attack (AOA) Disagree alert, tells pilots if the sensors on either side of the plane are giving contradictory information about the direction of the plane’s nose.
Boeing intended for this feature to be on all the Max 8 models as it had been a feature on the previous generations of 737s. However, after months of delivering the planes, their engineers found that the sensors only worked on Max 8’s where buyers had also purchased a separate, optional safety feature.
This basically means that a key safety feature that the company thought was standard was actually optional– sort of like a premium add-on.
Following the discovery, a review was launched after the engineers discovered the problem. “That review, which involved multiple company subject matter experts, determined that the absence of the AOA Disagree alert did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation,” according to company’s statement.
Boeing said it reported the problem to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a year after they knew about it. The FAA determined that the problem was “low-risk,” but still told Boeing they should have informed them earlier.
Boeing also reported the problem to the airlines that operated the planes. However, only 20 percent of buyers had purchased the optional indicator, according to the New York Times, which meant that an important warning light did not work on most of the 737s.
Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines
Unsurprisingly, neither of the two flights that crashed had that indicator.
Immediately, after the Ethiopian Airline crash, people began drawing lines between the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia just four months earlier. In addition to the fact that both planes were Max 8, the pilots of both planes reported issues and requested to return to the airports they took off from but did not make it back.
Following the incident, tons of countries grounded their Max 8 planes until Boeing investigated the situation. Numerous pilots also came forward to say that they had not been fully informed about software changes to the MAX 8’s autopilot and that they had not been trained to use the new software
The pilots specifically referenced a new feature that causes the plane to automatically correct the planes level if it’s sensor’s think it is flying at an angle that puts it at risk of stalling. Investigations from both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines crashes found that this software was engaged, and that it caused the noses of both the planes to be pushed down repeatedly.
Boeing initially responded to the pilots by arguing that there should not be a problem as long as pilots followed procedures. Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, later said that the company would update the Max 8’s software and provide training.
However, throughout the whole process, Boeing executives have denied that there is anything wrong with the planes.
The Debate Goes On
Boeing still maintains that this feature is not essential.
“Neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane,” the company said in Sunday’s statement. “They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes.”
Others disagree. If AOA sensors on the Max 8 think that the nose of the plane is too high, the automated control system forces the nose of the plane down automatically. That is exactly what happened to both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes.
In fact, investigators of both crashes found that a faulty sensor gave the system incorrect data, which then forced the nose of the plane down repeatedly. Logically, experts say, it seems like if those two flights had this safety feature that Boeing itself said tells pilots when sensors are giving contradictory information, this would likely not have happened.
Boeing is still refusing to draw that line. The combination of the lack of knowledge that their planes did not have key safety feature and the fact that they didn’t disclose their knowledge of this issue for a year just add to Boeing’s problems.
In their statement Sunday, Boeing also pushed back on the criticism that the aircraft certification system Boeing and the FAA have in place is flawed, which is the subject of congressional inquiries, a Department of Transportation panel, and a criminal investigation.
During a Congressional hearing in March, Daniel Ewell, the acting head of the FAA, stated that the agency’s certification procedures “are extensive, well-established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs for decades,” also adding that the FAA was “fully involved” in certifying the 737 Max.
However, this was contradicted by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who said the FAA has allowed plane manufacturers to help certify that their own aircraft meets safety standards.
Boeing’s management of the Max 8’s design has continually come under fire, which in turn has resulted in strained relations with airlines and customers, several federal investigations, and huge financial losses.
Still, time and time again, Boeing has continued to essentially skirt responsibility, even as the Max 8, which was the fastest-selling plane in the company’s history, remains grounded world-wide.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (New York Times) (Washington Post)
Europe’s Soccer Championship Ends Investigation Into Whether Player’s Rainbow Armband Is “Political”
The Union of European Football Associations will continue a probe into potential discrimination at its matches in Hungary, which passed a major anti-LGBTQ+ bill last week.
Pride Armband Isn’t Political, UEFA Says
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has agreed that a rainbow armband worn by German soccer player Manuel Neuer is not political in nature, according to the German Football Association (GFA).
Neuer wore the band at two official matches during UEFA’s Euro 2020 Championship and once during a friendly match with Latvia to show support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month.
Sunday, multiple outlets reported that UEFA was investigating Neuer’s armband as potentially political, possibly because LGBTQ+ rights have become somewhat of a flashpoint topic since the start of the tournament. Since UEFA does not allow players and teams to participate in “political demonstrations” at events, there were concerns the GFA could be hit with a fine.
Later Sunday, the GFA said UEFA would consider the armband “a sign of support for diversity and thus for ‘good cause,’” and because of that, the team would not face any disciplinary action.
Discrimination Investigation at Hungary Games
The same day outlets reported the investigation into Neuer’s armband, they also reported that UEFA was investigating two matches in Hungary for potential discrimination.
At the first match, an anti-LGBTQ+ banner was spotted in the crowd. At the second, Hungarian fans marched with banners that called on players to stop kneeling to protest racism.
Both events come as Hungary passed a bill against “LGBT propaganda” last week. Notably, that law bans the promotion or portrayal of homosexuality and gender reassignment.
In protest of Hungary’s new law, Munich’s mayor has asked the UEFA to allow the city to light up its stadium in rainbow colors on Wednesday when the German and Hungarian teams square off.
See what others are saying: (ESPN) (The Athletic) (Mirror)
Initial Unemployment Claims See First Rise Since April as Fed Estimates Faster Inflation Growth Than Previously Predicted
The Fed also announced that it expects to raise interest rates in 2023, a year earlier than its previous prediction.
Unemployment Claims Rise
The Labor Department reported Thursday that, for the first time in nearly two months, weekly initial unemployment claims increased.
For the week ending on June 12, 412,000 people filed first-time claims. That’s an increase of 37,000 from the previous week’s estimate of 375,000. It’s also the highest that new claims have been in a month.
Still, there are positive signs that the labor market is improving. For example, while last week’s continuing claims were largely unchanged from the previous week, the four-week moving average for continuing claims fell to its lowest level since March 2020.
The Federal Reserve is also optimistic about the labor market eventually returning to form despite the country still being short 7 million jobs. Following a two-day meeting, the central bank predicted that the unemployment rate could fall back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
It also expects economic growth to hit 7% this year, up from the 6.5% it predicted in March.
Inflation Will Grow Faster Than Expected
At its meeting, the Fed said it now believes inflation will climb higher than it had previously estimated just three months ago. In March, it predicted inflation would rise about 2.4% this year. As of Wednesday, it’s expecting a 3.4% jump.
That comes on the heels of a report from the Labor Department last week that indicated consumer prices climbed at their fastest rate since 2008 year-over-year in May. Like economists explained then, the Fed said it expects this rise in consumer prices to be temporary.
While the Fed expects the prices for some goods and services to continue to increase over the next few months because of issues such as supply bottlenecks, it also said it believes the labor market will continue to grow since the economy is finally coming out of its massive, pandemic-induced downturn in spending.
Still, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Wednesday, “Shifts in demand can be large and rapid. Inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent than we expect.”
Powell added that the central bank will keep a close eye on inflation and that it would respond quickly if inflation becomes broader or more persistent than current estimates.
Interest Rates Stay at Historic Lows… For Now
Among other key points from the Fed’s meeting was its decision to move up a projection for an initial interest rate hike from 2024 to 2023. Notably, it also said there could be two rate hikes in 2023.
That then caused some major stock indices like the Dow Jones to initially stumble, though the markets were more mixed Thursday. That’s likely at least partially because the Fed kept internet rates near a historically low zero for the time being, as expected.
Some Republican lawmakers, such as Sen. Rick Scott (Fl.), have argued that the 2023 projection is too slow, saying interest rates need to go up sooner to prevent inflation from rising too much.
In testimony before a Senate committee on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the inflation situation is being monitored “very, very carefully” and that while prices are rising, they’re also moving back toward “normal” levels.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNBC) (ABC News)
Coca-Cola Lost $4 Billion in Market Value After Cristiano Ronaldo Hid Two Bottles During a Press Conference
After the snub by Ronaldo, another soccer player hid a bottle of Heineken during a separate press conference Wednesday.
Ronaldo Pushes Away Coke Bottles
Coca-Cola’s market value fell by $4 billion after famed soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo moved two bottles of the soda off-camera during a press conference Monday.
The incident happened just before his team’s match against Hungary at the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. After hiding the Coke bottles, Ronaldo held up an unlabeled water bottle and said “Agua,” which is Portuguese for water.
The whole moment was likely very awkward for Coke as a company considering that it’s sponsoring the tournament; however, the situation was made tangibly worse for Coke when investors reacted by selling-off stock. That move caused its market value to fall from $242 billion to $238 billion.
Alongside that $4 billion loss, its individual share value fell 1.6%, which isn’t huge but is somewhat more notable given the fact that it was seemingly caused by one person in one moment. Ronaldo doesn’t exactly have the same level of stock market influence as that of Elon Musk on the cryptocurrency markets, and on top of that, minus several blips over the last 40 years, Coke’s stock has continued to climb overall.
Still, it’s not a great look to have one of the world’s top athletes at a major sports tournament criticizing your sugary drink. That’s likely why a Coke spokesperson later said, “Everyone is entitled to their drink preferences” and everyone has different “tastes and needs.”
“Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, on arrival at our press conferences,” the spokesperson added.
In the long run, this isn’t the end of Coke by any means. As Yahoo Finance noted, “It’s unlikely Coke’s stock will stay in the penalty box for too long as the business begins to partake in the global economic recovery.”
Ronaldo’s Healthy Diet
Ronaldo is known for basically being a machine in human form. He reportedly eats up to six very-calculated and clean meals a day and will also nap up to five times a day.
In the past, Ronaldo has indicated that he avoids alcohol and carbonated drinks in order to stay in shape. Earlier this year, he even directly spoke out against Coca-Cola when talking about his 10-year-old son.
“I’m hard with him sometimes because he drinks Coca-Cola and Fanta sometimes and no… And no, I’m pissed with him. And [I fight] with him when he eats chips and fries and everything. You know, I don’t like it.”
Besides his fame on the field, Ronaldo is also the most-followed individual on Instagram, with 299 million followers.
Pogba Seemingly Takes a Note from Ronaldo
It’s possible Ronaldo could have started a trend among athletes of speaking out more against unhealthy drinks, even if they are sponsors of games or tournaments.
In fact, on Wednesday, French player Paul Pogba removed a bottle of Heineken from the camera’s view at the start of a separate press conference.
While it was later learned that the specific Heineken was non-alcoholic, many believe Pogba, who is a devout Muslim, didn’t know that at the time or still didn’t want to promote the brand.