737 Max flight manual may have left MCAS information on 'cutting room floor'

In the over 1,600-page flight manual of Boeing's 737 Max 8 planes, the aircraft's new MCAS computer system, now at the centre of the investigations into two deadly crashes, is mentioned only once by name — in the glossary of abbreviated terms. 

That brief mention in the manual, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News, has prompted some speculation that more details about the anti-stall computer system may have been included in previous drafts, but then left out of the final version.

"I think the fairly obvious conclusion is that a broader explanation of MCAS was included in an earlier edition of the manual, and somewhere along the way it ended up on the cutting room floor," said Judson Rollins, a New Zealand-based aviation consultant, who worked for three airlines and a plane manufacturer.

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Rollins believes it was cut "to prevent the MCAS from having to be included in 737 Max transition training, which in turn will save 737 Max operators training costs."

Few hours training

But Rollins said that including MCAS in the manual would suggest it was a significant enough system that pilots would need to undergo classroom- or simulator-based training.

Costs for that extended training, he said, could range anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars per plane to the low millions.

The operating manual mentions the term MCAS under the section entitled "Abbreviations," where the acronym is defined as "Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System." That's the one and only reference to MCAS, which is suspected of playing a role in two recent crashes involving Max 8 planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed 346 people in total.

Raymond Hall, a former Air Canada pilot, said "it's very interesting" that the subject of MCAS was broached in the manual, but that "no follow-up" was done to explain it. Hall said that Boeing has historically been quite vigilant in making sure that all of its systems are laid out in clear terms, both in pilot training and in pilot manuals.

"The system is critical to the safety of the flight. And pilots ought to have known that it was there, ought to have been able to recognize it when it was implemented and ought to have been able to respond effectively," Hall said. 

'Critical to the safety of the flight'

He said he didn't think there was any "sinister action" on the part of either Boeing or the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but that it was a "matter of oversight shortage."

The Seattle Times recently reported that the FBI was joining a federal grand jury criminal investigation into the certification process that approved the safety of the 737 Max.

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The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — has prompted Canada, the U.K. and other countries to ground the aircraft. According to investigators, data obtained from the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash reveal "clear similarities" with the Lion Air plane disaster.

Following the Lion Air crash, pilots sat down with Boeing executives to complain they had not been given any information about the new MCAS system.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Washington Post that during that meeting, executives said they didn't inform pilots about the MCAS because they didn't want to "inundate" them with too much information. 

'Simply untrue'

In an emailed response to CBC News, Boeing did not deny that there were no references to MCAS in the manual. But spokesman Paul Bergman said that the relevant functions of the system were "described" in the manual, and that "media reports that we intentionally withheld information about airplane functionality from our customers are simply untrue."

Yet days after the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued a safety bulletin, providing for the first time details on how the anti-stall system worked and how to shut it down in case it malfunctioned.

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The Max, which came into service two years ago, features the new automated MCAS, which is meant to prevent an aerodynamic stall, which can cause a loss of lift, sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.

This system is designed to force the plane to pitch down if it thinks the aircraft is about to stall. Reports suggest that in the Lion Air crash, the MCAS may have responded to a faulty sensor, leading it to think the plane was stalling, and causing the plane to lurch downwards. The pilots, unfamiliar with the MCAS system, may have been helpless to respond and unable to bring its nose back up.

The New York Times reported that in the final minutes of the Lion Air flight, the pilot handed the controls to his co-pilot and flipped through the pages of a technical manual, trying to figure out what was happening.

If you have tips on this story, please email investigations@cbc.ca.

With files from Reuters, The Associated Press

Paid leave lets only child aid ill parent

At least 11 provinces have rolled out regulations to offer a minimum of 10 days of paid leave for those who are only children to care for hospitalized parents, but more efficient implementation is still needed.

In May 2016, Henan province became the first to offer such paid leave exclusively to only children in a move to benefit families that obeyed the one-child policy and to protect the rights of the senior population, according to its health authority.

Ten more provinces have produced similar policies as of early this month, with paid leave ranging from 10 to 20 days. Some regions also allow adults with siblings to take paid leave when their parents are hospitalized, but only for shorter periods.

Hu Kaina, 37, a local government employee, was the first among her colleagues to apply for the paid leave, two months after the local regulation took effect in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in September 2017.

“I learned of the policy from the newspaper. When my mother was admitted to the hospital in November, I tentatively submitted the application,” she said.

She handed in a leave request slip, her mother’s medical record and a copy of the official regulation. Her request was soon approved.

Zhang Pi, a grassroots government official in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, said he did not hesitate to put in a request. “I had no choice but to take a few days off when both my parents were admitted to the hospital.” He said the approval process also was streamlined.

Hu said, however, that more specifics are needed. “I felt such paid leave is necessary for only children. But with no specifics on how to enforce the regulation, it was up to each institution to decide whether to grant our requests or not.”

Her concerns about implementation seem warranted. Several companies and institutions in provinces where such policies are in force told China Daily they are either unaware of the new paid leave measures or never receive such requests.

The Health Commission of Henan province said in a report released in December that profit-driven private enterprises, especially middle-sized or small ones, are the most likely to bear the brunt of extra costs under the new paid leave policy.

The commission conceded there is no effective measure to rein in these firms if they ignore or turn down requests from employees. Only lip service is paid to the new regulation in some areas, the report noted.

Dang Junwu, deputy director of the China Research Center on Aging, said the government ought to provide subsidies for small businesses that obey the paid leave regulation to encourage wider implementation.

“We also need one central authority to oversee the policy’s enforcement. Right now, I see some mix-ups because some areas appoint health commissions to handle it while others look to a civil affairs authority or an elderly care agency to head it up,” Dang said.

Despite the snags, he acknowledged the need for the new paid leave policy.

“Even though the one-child policy was scrapped in late 2015, we shouldn’t shove aside the stress of elderly care confronting the only children in China,” he said. “Besides, no insurance program can compare to the comfort seniors get from their closest family members.”

The number of only children in China reached 145 million in 2010, and was predicted to climb to 200 million in 2020 and 300 million in 2050, according to Wang Guangzhou, a population expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Also, a growing segment of the senior population is in need of constant care. A study released by the Office of the National Working Commission on Aging in December 2016 showed that 18.3 percent of seniors have moderate to serious disabilities, an increase of more than 5 million from 2014.

Zhang Li in Nanning and Hu Meidong in Fuzhou contributed to this story.

‘Human security’ in focus at U.N. symposium cosponsored by Japan

NEW YORK – A recent high-level symposium at the United Nations hosted by Japan and other member states emphasized “human security,” tracing the framework’s evolution through decades of U.N. efforts to cope with humanitarian and environmental crises around the world.

The event, which took place on Feb. 28 at the U.N. headquarters, coincided with the 25th anniversary since human security as a paradigm for state decision-making first appeared in a landmark United Nations Development Program report. It also marked the 20th anniversary of the Japan-led effort to establish a trust fund supporting a “people-centered approach” when providing for those in need.

Since that time, the concept has grown and been defined in greater detail, including in a 2012 General Assembly resolution describing it as “the right of people to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, one of the event’s two keynote speakers, outlined the influence of human security in shaping the international body’s 2030 agenda and the 17 objectives that make up its Sustainable Development Goals.

“There is no question the power of human security remains so acute and relevant today because it is an integrated tool,” Steiner said, calling it “identical” to the SDGs in tackling complex, interrelated issues that stand in the way of development.

The goals, meant to be achieved by 2030, were crafted to prompt simultaneous efforts to help lift millions out of poverty, improve health and education, protect the environment and more.

Yukio Sato, the event’s other keynote speaker, served as Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations from the late 1990s. He was instrumental in bringing forward the human security concept while working with other diplomats and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Sato spoke of a paper on human security that he prepared for Non-Aligned Movement members in the lead-up to the international body’s widely touted Millennium Summit.

The principles laid out by the ambassador gained influence through that September 2000 meeting of world leaders, whose group declaration paved the way for the later adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. These eight goals included halving poverty and stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS within 15 years.

Recalling a 2004 visit by Annan to the Diet, Sato said the U.N. chief credited Japan’s technology and its “focus on human security” as instrumental in establishing the MDGs.

“Human security was meant to ensure the safety and survival of individuals and protection of their dignity,” he explained. “We also pointed out that the threats to human security varied broadly — from poverty to conflicts, from environmental degradation to displacement of people, from land mines, small arms, terrorism, organized crimes to infectious diseases and drugs and so forth. Natural disasters would also pose serious threats to security in our view.”

Nearly two decades after that summit, Sato noted the world is still “rife” with a range of threats and said that efforts “to enhance human security should remain the central focus to achieve the SDGs.”

Japan’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Toshiya Hoshino also made remarks stressing the importance of human security in addressing today’s global challenges.

“With our collaborative efforts through the application of human security, we can greatly contribute to realize the future where people everywhere can thrive and prosper,” he said.

The 90-minute program, which also included a panel discussion, was sponsored by the missions of Japan, Norway, Thailand and South Africa, as well as the U.N.’s Human Security Unit and UNDP.

More infrastructure investment planned

A total of 1.8 trillion yuan ($260 billion) is expected to be invested in road and rail transport infrastructure projects next year, Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng said at an annual working conference on Wednesday.

“The country has stepped up efforts to bolster areas of weakness in infrastructure construction, and has increased support for land use, sea use and environmental assessments,” Li said.

Much of the investment will go toward the building or renovation of 200,000 kilometers of roadways in rural regions, and efforts will be strengthened to ensure economically struggling villages are connected with other regions, he said.

One of the ministry’s main targets for next year is to continue supporting the construction of roads in underdeveloped areas so as to ensure they have highway access by 2020, he said.

Official statistics showed 30.46 million rural residents still lived below the national poverty line as of the end of 2017.

So far this year, 88.3 billion yuan has been invested in building rural roads to help alleviate poverty, with the amount invested up 14.6 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.

Yang Xinzheng, an expert at the China Academy of Transportation Science, said, “Better transportation will lead to more effective development and utilization of minerals, energy and tourist resources in poor areas, thus accelerating the pace of poverty eradication.”

In Ningxiang county, Hubei province, 2,000 km of new rural roads have spurred tourism, created 12,000 jobs and increased average per capita annual incomes by 15,000 yuan, he added.

There were 4.01 million km of rural roads in China by the end of last year, accounting for 84 percent of the country’s road network. An average of 200,000 km of rural roads have been built or renovated each year between 2013 and 2018, according to the ministry.

In another development, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic regulator, gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for a high-speed railway project linking Xi’an and Yan’an in Shaanxi province, which will have a total investment of 55.16 billion yuan.

The 292-km line will be designed for a top speed of 350 km/h, and construction is expected to take nearly a half decade to complete.

China has increased infrastructure spending on airports and railways recently to stabilize investment and spur slowing economic growth.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Soldier Injured In Grenade Attack In Jammu And Kashmir’s Pulwama

Srinagar: 

A security force personnel was injured in a grenade attack by terrorists in Pulwama town in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, officials said.

The terrorists threw a grenade at security force personnel posted on law and order duty in Pulwama town this afternoon, a police official said.

He said a soldier suffered minor injuries due to the grenade blast.

The area has been cordoned off and a hunt launched for the terrorists.

Pakistani man who tortured wife for refusing to dance remanded to police custody

Dubai: Pakistan husband and his friend who is accused of beating his wife and shaving her head, have been handed over to the police on four-day physical remand a day after their arrests.

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According to Lahore police, the two accused were into custody after Asma Azi alleged in a video message that her husband beat her and shaved her head for refusing to dance in front of his friends.

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According to the First Information Report, the woman’s husband of four years and his friends had stripped her naked, beaten her with pipes and shaved her head over her refusal to dance for them.

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The Investigation Officer told the judge at a district Model Town court on Thursday that the husband had admitted to shaving his wife’s head, according to media reports.

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The incident came to light after the wife with shaved head posted her video on social medial appealing for justice from authorities and seeking help from the public.

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Reacting to the alleged incident of torture, the Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP), Amjad Javed Saleemi, on Wednesday, ordered immediate action against the accused.

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The woman, who identified herself as Asma Aziz, claimed her husband, Mian Faisal, also threatened to strangle her when she refused to dance in front of them.

Liam Neeson again apologizes for 'hurtful and divisive' comments

Liam Neeson is again apologizing for revealing that he wanted to kill a random black person nearly 40 years ago after a close friend had been raped by a black man.

Neeson issued a statement Friday apologized for "hurtful and divisive" comments that "do not reflect, in any way, my true feelings nor me."

The actor caused a firestorm in early February when he told The Independent that after learning his friend's attacker was black, he hoped a black person "would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."

He later told Good Morning America that he is not a racist and moved past his desire for violence after seeking help from a priest and from friends. But the controversy overshadowed his new film, Cold Pursuit.

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In his latest statement, Neeson said he has had time to reflect on "my unacceptable thoughts and actions at that time." He said that in trying to explain his feelings, he "missed the point and hurt many people."

He ended the 155-word statement by saying: "I profoundly apologize."

Relocation provides isolated villagers with better homes and lives

Poverty alleviation efforts in the Tibet autonomous region are accelerating. For example, by the end of last year, 25 counties in cities and prefectures such as Shigatse, Lhokha, Chamdo and Ngari were no longer designated as “impoverished”, along with 2,100 villages and 181,000 residents, according to a statement from the regional government last month.

With China on course to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the government’s target year of 2020, Chamdo, once one of the poorest areas in Tibet, is sparing no efforts to catch up with the rest of the country.

The local urban planning bureau said several key zones have already been mapped out to function as centers for business, trade, high-tech companies and cultural parks.

Construction of the Chamdo section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is expected to begin in June, according to Abu, Party secretary of Chamdo.

The link will be Chamdo’s first railway line, but it will be the second to connect Tibet with the rest of the country, and Abu, who only uses one name, hopes the completion of the railway will greatly improve travel for residents and the exchange of goods with other provinces.

Over the years, the city has been relocating residents who lived in areas with scant natural resources, poor living conditions or the threat of endemic illnesses. The local government aims to complete the resettlement project and make sure the people are well accommodated by next month.

Tarog, a village that sits beside a national highway on the outskirts of Chamdo, is one of the new government-aided settlements. It is home to 105 households who moved from a remote area near the summit of a mountain.

Konchog moved to Tarog village with her family in 2013. The 58-year-old used to live in a cottage made from mud bricks and wood in a village surrounded by snow-capped mountains about 12 kilometers away.

The village had no electricity or water supplies, and it usually took two days to make a return trip to Chamdo on foot if Konchog wanted to see a doctor or purchase home supplies.

Initially, she was unwilling to move because she found the idea of refurbishing a new home too troublesome.

“When I saw our neighbors who had already moved start to live better lives, my husband and I decided to do it. We didn’t have the strength to build a house by ourselves, so we are grateful to the government for providing a new home for us,” she said.

From the outside, Konchog’s old village looks abandoned, but some former residents still return to their old cottages occasionally to tend their yaks or dig a worm-like fungus when it is in season.

They no longer have to rely on their feet to make the trip, as a few automobiles can park in an open space with yaks grazing alongside.

Tashi, 69, a retiree who used to make a living by shepherding yaks and digging the fungus in a poor village higher up the mountain, lives a leisurely life in his two-story house, which has been painted white and red.

His old village also lacked running water and electricity, and it was almost inaccessible by road, so there was no way to send children to school.

In 2012, Tashi moved into his new home and gave up his work as a shepherd, meaning he no longer has to feed the yaks.

The interior of his new house is decorated with knitted blankets, new wooden furniture, a fridge and a big home sound system bought by his son.

With piped water directly connected to the sinks, the big copper vessel that used to store water is now redundant and crammed with unused items.

“Life is changing for the better so rapidly that sometimes I feel that I am living in a dream,” he said.

Jobs Are Biggest Poll Issue For 62% Of Madhya Pradesh Voters: Survey

Bhopal: 

Employment would be the biggest issue with the 5.14 crore voters in the Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh, a survey by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has revealed.

The survey shows that for 61.91 per cent voters in Madhya Pradesh, including rural areas, better employment opportunities matter more than issues related to agriculture, corruption or terrorism.

“A total of 61.91 per cent voters in rural and urban MP consider better employment opportunities as the biggest election issue,” ADR state coordinator Rolly Shivhare said, adding that the corresponding figure nationwide was 46.80 per cent.

Giving a break-up, she said better employment avenues was the primary concern for 70 per cent of Madhya Pradesh’s urban population and 59 per cent of rural voters.

The second priority for 39.19 per cent Madhya Pradesh voters was remunerative prices for farm produce, while the third concern for 32.69 per cent electors was better health care by way of more hospitals and primary health centres, the ADR functionary said.

In rural areas, 56 per cent voters wanted higher prices for farm produce while 40 per cent spoke of the need for electricity for agricultural purposes, the survey showed.

However, in Madhya Pradesh’s urban areas, 45 per cent of the electorate’s second priority was better hospitals and primary health care centres, while 41 per cent put their third priority as better law and order, Rolly Shivhare added.

The survey was conducted between October 2018 and December 2018, covering 534 Lok Sabha constituencies with 2,73,487 voters from several age groups participating, she said.

“The three main objectives of this survey were to identify voters” priorities on specific governance issues, their rating of the government’s performance on those issues and factors affecting voting behaviour,” she added.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) was established in 1999 by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.

It analyses the backgrounds of candidates contesting elections in order to help the electorate make an informed choice.

Japan to keep official records of new era name’s selection process

Following concerns over how official documents were handled in the changeover from Showa to Heisei, the government will officially record the process of selecting the new era name that will be announced Monday, government sources have said.

Among a set of documents to be kept for a maximum 30 years under the law will be calligraphy of the gengō (era name) that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is expected to show in an announcement Monday, the sources said Saturday.

The era name change will come on May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito is due to ascend the throne, taking over from his father, Emperor Akihito, who is set to abdicate on April 30.

A panel of representatives from the business world, academia and media organizations will review proposed candidate names Monday morning and an outline of their discussions will also be part of the documents.

Following the announcement by the top government spokesman, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to explain its meaning and detail the literary work from which it is derived. But the government is unlikely to reveal further details that day, including other candidate names that were discussed.

Still, the government plans to keep records of such proposals, including over who came up with the ideas, the sources said.

The government’s move comes amid growing calls for proper management of official documents and archives to ensure the public’s right to know is protected.

Under the law, the government is required to keep official documents for a maximum 30 years, after which they will be moved to the National Archives of Japan or discarded with the consent of the prime minister.

Japan adopted the current era name, Heisei, meaning “achieving peace,” in 1989 following the death of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

The calligraphy of Heisei, shown publicly for the first time by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Keizo Obuchi, was temporarily kept at Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita’s house, prompting calls for the government to improve how it keeps official documents. At the time, Japan did not have the current legal framework concerning official documents.

Official documents related to the era name change from Showa to Heisei remain classified as the government decided to keep them confidential for five more years. They are due to be made public in April 2024.