When ‘Jugaad’ is Catastrophic
-A story behind most recent plane crashes killed 346 people in total (Lion Air Flight 610 & Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Plane Crashes)
Jugaad. A word that does not need any explanation in India. It means a hack or innovative fix or simple workaround. You can find Jugaad in almost every house in India. Below pictures are a few examples:
But, can you imagine that the aviation industry who has the responsibility for the safety of millions of passengers, also believes in such Jugaad? Yes, it happened when aviation industry giant Boeing came up with Jugaad to upgrade their one of the most successful commercial airplane Boeing 737.
In the aviation sector, there are two big giants – 1. Boeing (USA) with 38% market share and 2. Airbus (France) with a 28% market share. Whenever one of them upgrade their airplane model in any commercial segment, the second start losing business in the same segment. This happened with Airbus and Boeing. Airbus upgraded their one of the most successful commercial plane A320 to A320neo with a new fuel-efficient engine. This upgrade required a minimal change in design and no/minimal additional training to pilots who were already flying A320. So, it was very easy to adopt a new model for many airline companies worldwide and save money because of a more advanced & fuel-efficient model.
To counter Airbus 320 upgrade, Boeing too wanted to upgrade their 737 model to 737 Max with the more fuel-efficient engines and more passenger capacity. But, without redesigning the whole model, they had limited options to install the new bigger engine to 737, because the height of 737 from the ground was not good enough to fit the bigger engine underneath the wings.
This is where Boeing did 2 Jugaad or workarounds
First Jugaad, instead of placing the engines underneath the wings, they placed it slightly above & in front of wings.
This design had a side effect, during take-off when the plane is in full thrust (speed), it might uplift the nose of plane more than a safer angle.
To overcome this problem, Boeing again avoided redesigning the whole model and did another Jugaad. They installed a software called MCAS which automatically activates and brings the nose down when it is upper than a safe zone.
What are the probable mistakes of Boeing?
1. They opted for workarounds instead of proper redesign to upgrade their 737 model. 2. No information was provided about the newly installed system MCAS in the flight manual and pilots were not trained on MCAS.
What happened with Lion Air on 28th October 2018 & Ethiopian Airlines on March 10th, 2019?
On 28th October, Lion Air Flight 610 took off from Jakarta airport. A few minutes after takeoff, one of the faulty sensors started sending wrong signals. These wrong signals automatically activated MCAS which started bringing the plane nose down. The pilot realized that signals are wrong, but he could not understand why the plane is going down because the pilot had no information about the MCAS system which was bringing nose down. The pilot requested an emergency landing but could not contact air traffic control. Unfortunately, 12 minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed and killed 189 people onboarded.
If the pilot would have informed and trained about MCAS, he could have turned off MCAS function and save the life of 189 people.
A similar thing happened with Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and 157 people were killed.
Jugaads are good but not on the cost of human life. Indians should also keep this in mind while implementing Jugaad in vehicles and driving in the road.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. Examples of analyses performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information.