Category: Air Crash Comments

The Wolk Law Firm has been hired as plaintiff’s counsel by the family of a passenger in the crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 and is under consideration by many others. The United Nation’s employee left a disabled husband and young child.

What Boeing ought to do since according to its President it “owns this” is to engage the services of a mediator to settle all the cases promptly. Instead it will no doubt choose the “litigation to death” route while publicly claiming its sympathy for the families of the deceased.

No worries, The Wolk Law Firm has been trial counsel in many airline crashes before and this one will be easier than all the others.

Arthur Alan Wolk, Esq.

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Boeing 737 software upgrade flight tests are bogus. The FAA and Boeing are running around trying to put the world-wide firestorm about the Boeing 737 Max certification and the two unnecessary crashes of the Max models overseas killing 346 people.

Boeing claims to have developed a software fix that will solve the Max’ uncontrollable pitch down tendencies from a MCAS system that was necessitated due to its uncontrollable and uncertifiable pitch up tendencies. The only problem is that the test airplane for this miracle solution is a Boeing 737 Max 8 at all but a 737-7 which is not equipped with the 737 Max 8’s Leap engines which size and more forward position is the claimed reason for the pitch up tendencies in the first place.

So Boeing and the FAA Are testing a fix on an airplane that doesn’t have the problem rather than one of those Max 8’s that have been built and are not delivered.

No fools, these pilots, they are doing these tests at an altitude three times higher than that when the troubles for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines began.

So same old same old. The FAA is incompetent, Boeing is still leading it around by the nose and the testing that should be done, on a real Max 8 hasn’t happened.

Arthur Alan Wolk, Esq.

April 3, 2019

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It seems incomprehensible that American Airlines and Southwest Airlines can refuse to ground their B-737 Max 8’s while the rest of the world grounds theirs in the face of two accidents that have claimed the lives of nearly 350 people.

There would not be enough money in the world to pay the punitive damages claims that either airline would have to pay in the event one of their Max 8’s dived into the ground because the MCAS failed again.

Today Boeing announced a software fix that reduced the control authority of the MCAS so the elevators would still be able to allow the crew to pull out of a dive induced by runaway stabilizer trim and added a comparator so if either Angle of Attack sensor disagreed, the system wouldn’t work. This is a good first step but the airplane should never have been certified by the FAA without those features in place. It has a single point failure, one sensor operated the system at a time, and this emergency system alone created a worse emergency.

Do American and Southwest’s Max 8’s already have the software or some version of it that the International carriers do not have? If so the culpability of Boeing would be worse, if that’s possible, but the FAA would also have to be complicit which would explain why it rushed to defend Boeing and the decision of American and Southwest not to ground their fleets. If American and Southwest have a revised MCAS and they remain silent about it, they are morally corrupt for remaining silent.

There is no evidence that the U.S. carriers’ aircraft are any different than those sold overseas but something is driving this arrogance in the face of certain disaster.

Arthur Alan Wolk

3/12/19

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Boeing has announced and the FAA has agreed to software changes to the MCAS system, the anti-stall system suspected in causing 300 deaths in the last 4 months on the Boeing 737 Max 8.

The Boeing announcement says the enhancements include updates to “the MCAS flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.”

Yet just yesterday the FAA issued a certification of continued airworthiness for the 737 Max 8 claiming to the world that in spite of the two recent accidents, the airplane is just fine. That’s funny, an Airworthiness Directive addresses safety of flight issues and one is already issued on an emergency basis and the software enhancements are included in the second to be issued in April. Other changes are likely to be mandated as well.

So the B-737 Max 8 is so safe that over 300 people are dead and it needs to be changed to keep flying yet the FAA hasn’t grounded it until the “enhancements” are introduced.

Other U.S. carriers who operate the Max refuse to take it out of service. What will the FAA say when another one goes down, this time in the U.S., “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims’ families.”?

This is politics as usual and the FAA is covering up its embarrassment for having certified an airplane with an emergency system that causes its own emergency. The 737 Max 8 will one day be fixed just like the 737 rudder was after six accidents years ago, but right now until it’s fixed it should remain on the ground.

The FAA is useless!

Arthur Alan Wolk

3/12/19

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Two crashes within a few short months of each other, hundreds dead, experienced crews aboard each and a known absent control redundancy? This airplane needs another look by embarrassed regulators.

The Boeing 737 MAX is a further lengthened version of the most popular airliner ever conceived, the 737. But the differences in the MAX are more than just size. The MAX is so stretched that a control intervention system, The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, was included that figured into the crash of the LIONAIR JT 610 crash in Indonesia. In that crash, an angle of attack sensor malfunction was implicated as well as a failure by Boeing to provide adequate differences training materials (documents to advise flight crews how operating the MAX differs from other 737s).

While LIONAIR maintenance and pilot error was charged by Boeing, as it always does after an accident, it turns out that normal emergency techniques for this control system malfunction do not work.

It appears now that absent proof that foul play or a different mechanical malfunction brought this airplane down, this Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX accident must be a trigger for a Special Airworthiness Review to see if the regulations for certification were not given short shrift.

For example, the Federal Aviation Regulations require control system redundancy so no single failure can cause a crash. In the new MAX design, there are two angle of attack sensors but only one supplies the needed critical information to the flight control computer at any one time. That may be a violation of the redundancy requirement and both systems operating properly with a comparator of the health of the two should have been required.

But there appears to be an ugly side to this aircraft. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System in the MAX pitches the nose down when the a system senses an angle of attack higher than required for normal flight or one that would result in an aerodynamic stall. Since the system is a required control system for dispatch, by making only one angle of attack sensor required and indeed used at a time, Boeing hedged on the likely failure of two AOA’s at the same time and got it certified.

Now the FAA, the agency that certified the aircraft will fall all over itself to deny that the MAX doesn’t meet the regulations but it said the same thing when three B-737s crashed from a rudder control problem that the FAA denied existed. More than 600 people lost their lives while the FAA defended its actions and stood in Boeing’s shadow until the NTSB reluctantly and due in part to the work of Arthur Alan Wolk required a reliably redundant rudder control system.

Until the cause of this latest crash is determined, the MAX should be grounded and a bottom up review made to see how this new band aid system fails, how its failure can be annunciated to the flight crew and how it can be stopped once it runs away.

It is no coincidence that both aircraft crews lost control close to the ground and unless something else is quickly identified as the cause, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System must be a suspect. Something about the MAX’s design required this unheard of mechanical intervention in the normal control of the Boeing 737, literally taking control away from the crew so the airplane doesn’t crash. The fact that it is known that this supposedly lifesaving system may itself cause a crash makes a careful re-examination of it appropriate before 600 people are lost instead of the more than 300 dead already.

Arthur Alan Wolk 3/10/2019

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No lawyer in the world has as much experience with the Boeing G 737 Control System malfunctions as Arthur Alan Wolk of THE WOLK LAW FIRM. The crash of Lion Air Flight JT 610 is beyond a tragedy for the 189 souls aboard. It is a disgrace.

The Boeing 737 MAX is equipped with a flight control system designed to prevent the crew from
accidentally stalling the airplane. It’s called the “Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System” In
this instance stall means aerodynamic stall or the airplane quits flying not engine failure. The incidence of airliner crews accidentally stalling their airplanes is almost non-existent except when in the unlikely
event the flight control system malfunctions and misleads the flight deck crew into mis-handling the emergency. This occurred over the Atlantic during an Air France Flight to Paris from Buenos Aires some
years ago. All aboard were killed so every aircraft manufacturer was on notice that the systems were getting too complex and confusing even for experienced flight crews to master.

Boeing airplanes have traditionally avoided the use of computer interventions which take control of the
aircraft away from the flight deck crew and the Boeing 737 MAX is the first time Boeing has departed
from that control system design philosophy in the Boeing 737 type. The MAX system literally uses two
Angle of Attack sensors which feeds information to a horizontal stabilizer trim system that will force the nose of the aircraft down if the angle of attack (the angle between a line down the middle of the
fuselage and the air it is flying through) gets too steep. This system inexplicably uses only one of the two angle of attack sensors so it has a built in single point failure in the event that the one it is using fails.
The computer senses that at that angle even if incorrectly measured due to a malfunctioning angle of attack sensor, the airplane is approaching or will approach stall and trims the stabilizer nose down to prevent the aircraft from stalling. The problem is that the system won’t allow the crew to disable it in a timely way if at all and it will take control away from the crew all the way into the ground or ocean. In fact since the system only works when the airplane is in manual flaps up condition, lowering the flaps
would have disabled it but nobody in the cockpit knew that because Boeing didn’t tell them.

In the instance of the Boeing 737 MAX, there was nothing in the FAA Approved Flight manual to advise
the crew of this anomaly or how to deal with it and nothing in the differences training (the training of flight deck crews in one type of B-737 to know what’s new or different about the MAX) to cover it.
Therefore the Lion Air crew was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place trying to figure out what was wrong and what to do about it.

There is no question that Boeing knew about the issue and the potential failure mode because it designed and built the system. It was obligated to create a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis so the various potential failures could be addressed. It also knew it had a responsibility under the Federal
Aviation Regulations to design the system so it could be flown by pilots of ordinary piloting skills, without the use of excessive strength and the system must be able to be overridden by the crew using
ordinary strength and easily disabled it if it malfunctions.

Boeing was required to supply the FAA with a Flight Manual, that only the FAA can approve, which gives the crew all the necessary information to deal with emergencies and abnormal conditions and under no circumstances is one emergency allowed to create an even wors emergency. Clearly the FAA didn’t read it, didn’t understand it, didn’t flight test it and just rubber stamped it.

This Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System was malfunctioning on four flights before the
accident flight. The flight deck crews reported the malfunctions and Lion Air maintenance people claiming they used the manuals that Boeing supplied, troubleshot the squawk and claim they fixed the system as instructed. The problem is that this malfunction could not be effectively troubleshot on the ground as the angle of attack sensors typically fail in the air. That’s why each succeeding flight deck crew had the problem again. In addition the system cannot be effectively troubleshot by the methods the maintenance personnel were given in continuing airworthiness manuals that Boeing was required under the Federal Aviation Regulations to provide with all means necessary to maintain the aircraft safe for flight.

Many other types of jet aircraft have a single switch that will allow the crew to disconnect the entire
trim system. But because this was a stall protection system, often the means to disable it is more complicated so the protection is not lost. Clearly the crew of Lion Air JT610 was unable to disconnect or disable the system and the nose was pitched down in ever increasing amounts such that even tugging as hard as they could the crew could not overcome the dive to eventual oblivion. The very fact that the crew could not disable or override the system makes the system itself a violation of the same Federal
Aviation Regulations.

Arthur Alan Wolk litigated the Boeing 737 rudder malfunction accidents, United 525 in Colorado Springs,
Co. and USAIR 427 in Aliquippa Pa., for nine years successfully settling the cases of the many passengers he represented after proving, in spite of Boeing’s denials, that the rudder control system was flawed. It
has since been redesigned. Wolk proved the rudder control system defective not only to the NTSB which was mesmerized for years by Boeing’s denials but to Boeing and its insurers as well.

The rudder in the Boeing 737 also had a single point failure and there was no mention of a procedure to counter it in the FAA approved Flight Manual. The regulators don’t regulate and the manufacturers do not comply with the regulatory requirements.

No one is more qualified to litigate Lion Air JT 610 than Arthur Alan Wolk and The Wolk Law Firm.


Arthur Alan Wolk can be reached at the office 215-545-4220 or on his cell 610-733-4220.

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Dark, snowy, limited visibility, slick runway, short runway, inadequate safety areas, all ingredients for a disaster. The data must be analyzed but based on our litigating these accidents before here is what must be carefully looked at.

This is an old airplane with lots of time on it. The aircraft swerved after making a normal landing. Although it came out of a recent inspection crew write ups on thrust reversers and engine spool up times need to be examined for differences between the left and right engines. The auto-braking system and antiskid must likewise be examined.

Why, because a similar accident occurred with an American Airlines MD-80 in a thunderstorm.

In the American crash, when the crew deployed thrust reversers the buckets did not deploy symmetrically. The engines spooled up 11 seconds apart so as the power came up the airplane skidded sideways. Sound familiar?

In addition the brakes were also problematic so the airplane went sideways down the runway until the crew could straighten out the airplane before it left the runway. The wing spoilers did not deploy even though armed. Ten were killed.

If the braking is not symmetric, i.e. equal left and right the airplane can skid sideways New Crash Likely Old Problem
Delta Airlines crash at La Guardia Could Have Been a Lot Worse

Dark, snowy, limited visibility, slick runway, short runway, inadequate safety areas, all ingredients for a disaster. The data must be analyzed but based on our litigating these accidents before here is what must be carefully looked at.

This is an old airplane with lots of time on it. The aircraft swerved after making a normal landing. Although it came out of a recent inspection crew write ups on thrust reversers and engine spool up times need to be examined for differences between the left and right engines. The auto-braking system and antiskid must likewise be examined.

Why, because a similar accident occurred with an American Airlines MD-80 in a thunderstorm.

In the American crash, when the crew deployed thrust reversers the buckets did not deploy symmetrically. The engines spooled up 11 seconds apart so as the power came up the airplane skidded sideways. Sound familiar?

In addition the brakes were also problematic so the airplane went sideways down the runway until the crew could straighten out the airplane before it left the runway. The wing spoilers did not deploy even though armed. Ten were killed.

If the braking is not symmetric, i.e. equal left and right the airplane can skid sideways on a slick runway. if the reverse buckets don’t deploy symmetrically the airplane can skid sideways on a slick runway, if the engines do not spool up symmetrically ( and they rarely do) the airplane can skid sideways on a slick runway. Before blaming the Delta flight deck crew, which no doubt will happen, the NTSB needs to look at these issues and also check to see if there were any prior complaints by other crews of anomalies with these systems on this aircraft. A careful check of approach airspeeds and deployment of the spoilers on the wings after touchdown must also be verified. The spoilers on an MD-80, necessary to put weight on the wheels for more effective braking, must be armed by the flight deck crew for them to deploy. The pre-landing checklist must be verified on the Cockpit Voice Recorder. There is a distinctive clunk sound arming that system makes.

La Guardia can be challenging, especially at night in a snowstorm. Plowing is useful but in the midst of a very heavy snowstorm may not be enough. The runways are short, there is water everywhere but thankfully no one was seriously hurt and other than embarrassment life will go on.

Arthur Alan Wolk

March 6, 2015

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The Wolk Law Firm has received a demand letter from NTSB General Counsel that it clarify comments made about the NTSB’s role in investigating the fiery crash of a Gulfstream IV at Bedford, Massachusetts.

Earlier commentaries focused on the elevator controls as the likely cause of that tragedy. In fact another GIV suffered a similar yet not fatal incident in 2006 at Palm Beach International and yet another just occurred at Eagle, Colorado. At Eagle the flight crew pulled back on the elevator control and got nothing. They aborted the takeoff and stopped within feet of the end of the runway which was longer than the runway at Bedford.

Since those commentaries were published on this site others have also contacted the Wolk Law Firm.

The NTSB has refused to allow representatives of the families to bring competent experts to examine the wreckage of the Bedford aircraft and in particular the elevator control servo and associated hardware. The NTSB has declined to allow the families’ representatives to listen to the Cockpit Voice Recorder or see a transcript and has also declined to publish the results of the Flight Data Recorder tracings. This is true even though the NTSB had had this information within hours of the accident. Rumor has it that the Eagle, Colorado aircraft was taken to a Gulfstream facility for examination and testing.

In its preliminary report of the Bedford accident, issued after the NTSB listened to the Cockpit Voice Recorder, and looked at the Flight Data Recorder which revealed the flight deck crew in Bedford is said to have referred to “aircraft control” before they attempted to abort the take-off. In the Eagle, Colorado incident, the flight deck crew uttered similar words as well. Such excited utterances are common when the cause of the emergency is related to the controllability of an aircraft.

Since those words were apparently uttered at a time when back pressure on the yoke and hence the elevators was being applied, the aircraft control referred to is the elevators.

If they do not work, the aircraft will not rotate for takeoff just as in Palm Beach, just as in Eagle, and just as in Bedford.

The Gulfstream has a dual elevator control servo which combines two hydraulic systems into one unit to provide system redundancy in the event of a single hydraulic system failure.

It consist of two pistons that oppose each other and they are connected to a common linkage. There is also a manual back-up that is supposed to allow elevator movement even in the event of a dual hydraulic system failure. For reasons that are not now apparent, the cable back-up has proved inadequate. That control system was designed in the 1960’s by the same company responsible for the B-737 rudder control servo. The Wolk Law Firm’s nine year effort at proving the defect in the B-737 servo in the face of industry denials is well known.

It has been our firm’s experience that design philosophies that result in unaccounted for failure modes usually pervade the product line. We are investigating whether the dual redundant design in the GIV is in fact truly dual redundant, or whether it is just redundant enough to satisfy certification authorities. There is only a single elevator servo in the GIV just like there was only a single servo in the B-737 rudder.

After the Eagle incident The Wolk Law Firm published another commentary referring to a document production made by the NTSB as well as making comment on the flight deck crew’s reported utterances in the Bedford incident. The NTSB hasn’t yet published the docket and no documents were produced further to two separate FOIA requests. The Wolk law Firm assembled documents on its own and the NTSB has been stonewalling document production even though The Wolk law firm is entitled to them under The Freedom of Information Act. The families that The Wolk Law firm represent are also entitled to the documents up to now assembled by the NTSB under the Family Assistance Act, but the NTSB has ignored the mandates of that Act as well. The NTSB is concerned that it would appear that we were permitted to hear the CVR or read a transcript, but that was neither said nor implied by the commentary. The NTSB also is miffed at the suggestion that based on some forty years of investigating aircraft accidents that were unduly influenced by manufacturers’ participation, this Bedford investigation would likewise be compromised. The fact that manufacturers’ investigators report to their legal departments and hence their insurers doesn’t seem to bother the NTSB. The fact that

a study called The Rand Report issued years ago brought into question the cozy relationship between the NTSB and the manufacturers it invites to participate in investigations to the exclusion of representatives of the victims still doesn’t trouble the NTSB. Nothing has changed.

So to address the concerns of the NTSB directly, nothing was intended to imply that the NTSB released its docket on this accident to The Wolk Law Firm. Nothing was intended to imply that the NTSB released a transcript or allowed The Wolk law Firm to hear the CVR or see tracings from the FDR. Only the manufacturer of the aircraft and its safety/accident/legal/defense investigators were allowed to do that. In fact the NTSB continues to stonewall production of any documents concerning the Bedford accident.

The NTSB is also concerned that The Wolk Law Firm referred to the NTSB reluctantly releasing  documents. These documents which took a lawsuit to get released related to five other accidents and not the Bedford accident where the NTSB continues to refuse to release documents.

The Wolk Law Firm sued the NTSB for collaborating with aircraft manufacturers to keep documents and suspect parts from it until after the statute of limitations has run on lawsuits for the deaths of aircraft occupants. This has happened a number of times, not to mention the number of suspect parts that have been lost or damaged by the NTSB or destroyed to the point that no useful information can be further gleaned from them.

The FOIA request for the docket and the filing of that lawsuit were close in time and the amicable settlement of that lawsuit also occurred round the time the documents on Bedford were requested. The Wolk law Firm declines to speculate on the motivations of the NTSB but its experience is that the NTSB does not timely honor Freedom of Information Act requests and even asks manufacturers whether they can release certain documents before doing so. Allowing manufacturers to write

narratives of accidents, reviewing accident reports before they are released to the public, examining their own parts in their own facilities to determine whether they are defective is also routine for the NTSB.

Comments made by The Wolk Law Firm were based on their knowledge, experience, reports by others and reports by the NTSB following the Bedford accident, study of the aircraft systems and thousands of hours spent studying and uncovering flaws in aircraft control systems that baffled NTSB investigators. For example, the elevator control servo and its mechanisms was not thoroughly examined at the scene before the aircraft was moved from Bedford to its storage facility in spite of the flight crew referring to aircraft control prior to the crash. The failure to carefully examine it, remove it, laboratory test it and metallurgically  analyze it before the aircraft was moved is inexplicable and indefensible.

In our opinion the cause of the Bedford crash is and always will be a failure of the elevator control system, just like it was at Palm Beach, just like it was at Eagle and just like it was elsewhere. Getting demand letters from the NTSB won’t change anything, won’t solve anything, and don’t mean anything. I trust this clarifies concerns the NTSB had that it had reluctantly produced documents that might help The Wolk law firm assist the grieving families of those killed in this tragedy. No chance of that.

Arthur Alan Wolk, Esq.

 

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LATEST AIR ASIA 8501 THEORY PREPOSTEROUS

Aviation Attorney Arthur Wolk says a recent emergency airworthiness directive may explain what could have caused crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

The latest word from the Government of Indonesia is that the cause of the crash was entry into a thunderstorm that resulted in so much ice accumulations that one or more engines failed and the airplane stalled.

Any ice accumulation sufficient to shut down one of these engines would literally have to be so large that it covered the entire engine inlet. The aircraft is equipped with inlet heat to prevent just such an accumulation which has never happened even without inlet heat. The inlet is about 6 feet around.

Large ice accumulations if the heat was off could cause foreign object damage to an engine but it would take far more than one engine being damaged to cause the loss of this airplane.

Loss of an engine simply means the crew must descend to a lower altitude but this crew ascended so power was available and thus the engine didn’t fail.

An aerodynamic stall that apparently is misunderstood by the Government official is also virtually impossible due to a single engine failure.

The remaining engine  has more than enough power to maintain flight albeit at a lower altitude.

The Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued December 10th says that ice can prevent angle of attack sensors from operating, pitch the airplane nose down and prevent the sidestick controllers from allowing the crew to pull out of a dive. That scenario is far more likely as is a breakup due to turbulence.

If the pitot tubes used to provide airspeed data to the computers iced up, the aircraft can stall due to misinformation provided to the flight control system.

The current theory appears to be generated from industry representatives attempting to establish pilot error as the cause rather than airplane defect. That undue influence on investigators happens all the time.

If they don’t figure out or disclose or fix how the airplane’s computer architecture contributes to these accidents, they will continue to occur.

The weather was bad, and perhaps the crew should have refused to take the flight but Airbus needs to be transparent about how pilots need to have the last word how the airplane operates not the computers that interface with them.

Arthur Alan Wolk

January 4, 2015

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