Boeing reshuffles top engineers amid 737 MAX crisis

A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked at Indonesia's Soekarno Hatta International Airport

Just two minutes into the flight, the first officer reported a "flight control problem" to air traffic control and said the pilots meant to maintain an altitude of 5,000 feet, the November report said.

Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc., the two largest MAX operators in the United States, said they have bolstered their reservation and operations teams to figure out how to spread flight cancellations across their networks, not just on MAX flights. Much of the controversy centers around reports that pilots and flight crews around the world were unaware that MCAS was added to the software of 737 Max 8s and that the pilots were not specifically trained on it. "They didn't seem to know the trim was moving down", the source said.

Airline mechanics allegedly tried four times to fix related issues and after pilots reported issues with incorrect displays workers in Denspasar, Bali, replaced a key sensor that is used by the Boeing plane to drive down its nose if it senses an emergency.

Captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger, who piloted US Airways Flight 1549 to safety in the "Miracle on the Hudson" in 2009, blasted Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for their roles in the two recent plane crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8.

After the Lion Air crash, two US pilots' unions said the potential risks of the system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, hadn't been sufficiently spelled out in their manuals or training.

As Ethiopian investigators pored over black box data from their crash, sources with knowledge of the doomed Lion Air cockpit voice recorder revealed how pilots scoured a manual in a losing battle to figure out why they were hurtling down to sea. A crew that flew the same plane the evening before had the same problem with the plane's nose.

Lion Air did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Similarly to what occurred a day later, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 also ended up being automatically pitched nose down, but the flight crew shut down the MCAS (the anti-stall system) and continued the flight manually, landing "without incident".

The 31-year-old captain then asked the first officer to check the quick reference handbook, which contains checklists for abnormal events. Like the Indonesian crash, the pilot of the plane in Ethiopia sent a distress call shortly after takeoff.

Various firms are reconsidering Boeing orders, and some airlines are revising profit forecasts given they now can not count on maintenance and fuel savings factored in from the MAX.

FAA spokesman Greg Martin would not comment on whether the agency's reputation has been hurt by its approval of the Max, the crashes or the agency's initial hesitation to ground the planes after the second crash. Boeing also refused to comment to CNN on the matter Wednesday.

Development of the 737 MAX began in 2011 after the launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash that killed 157 people showed "clear similarities" to the Lion Air disaster.

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