Manufacturer Boeing’s “risky design choices and faulty safety assessments” contributed to the 2009 crash of a Turkish Airlines flight out of Amsterdam Schipol Airport that killed nine people and injured 50, in contradiction to the Dutch Safety Board’s final report, the New York Times reported.
The Schipol crash involved the Boeing 737 New Generation or 737-NG, an earlier model of the Boeing 737-Max, the grounded plane that has killed hundreds and caused one of the biggest crises in the company’s history.
Dutch authorities “either excluded or played down criticisms of the manufacturer” due to pressure from Boeing, disguising parallels between the Turkish Airlines crash and Boeing’s catastrophic crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people in 2019.
The Dutch Safety Board’s final report put the blame on the pilots for not reacting properly in the 2009 Turkish Airlines crash.
Similarities among the crashes
The Turkish Airlines crash “represents such a sentinel event that was never taken seriously” according to Sidney Dekker, an aviation safety expert who analyzed the crash on behalf of the Dutch Safety Board.
Both the crashes were triggered by faulty sensors: The Schipol accident was caused by a faulty sensor that cut the speed right before landing, and the Max accidents were blamed on a faulty wind sensor that miscalculated the angle of the wind and pushed the plane’s nose down.
Boeing was aware of the sensor malfunction, and developed a software fix, installing it on all planes manufactured after 2006. For older planes, they created an update and made it optional. For some pre-2006 planes, the update did not work, and Boeing did not create a fix for those planes until after the 2009 crash.
The Dutch Safety Board’s report deemed it “remarkable” that Boeing failed to enable this fix for the older planes.
Boeing representatives removed that sentence by the Dutch board from the final report, claiming that the suggested modification was unnecessary because “no unacceptable risk had been identified.”
‘It got buried‘
Boeing’s reluctance to acknowledge the full extent of their responsibility in the 2009 crash was motivated by profit and wanting to make “the narrowest possible changes,” said Dr. David Woods, Dr. Dekker’s PhD advisor and technical adviser to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Dr. Woods said that the Turkish Airlines crash “should have woken everybody up” and Boeing should have refrained from using the same sensor system in the 737-Max, but instead, “it got buried.”