Cockpit Recorder From Indonesian Crash Is Finally Recovered

BANGKOK — Nearly three months after Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 crashed into the Java Sea, Indonesian officials announced Wednesday that they had recovered the memory module of the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder by pumping up mud and sand from the seafloor.

The crucial memory unit, which apparently broke loose from the cockpit voice recorder on impact, could reveal the final words of the pilot and co-pilot as the Boeing 737-500 plummeted into the sea on Jan. 9.

The module was recovered Tuesday night and brought to shore Wednesday by a Coast Guard ship. Officials said they believed the module was still functional and that it would take three days to a week to download and read its data.

The aircraft crashed minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, killing all 62 people aboard, including six active crew members.

difference in the level of thrust between the plane’s two engines might have contributed to the aircraft rolling over before it plunged into the sea.

A difference in the level of thrust — the force of the engines that propels the aircraft forward — can make planes difficult to control, but it is unclear why that problem may have occurred during the Sriwijaya flight.

Officials hope that the recovered memory module will shed some light on why the pilot and co-pilot were unable to recover control of the plane, which plummeted more than 10,000 feet in less than a minute.

“Without the cockpit voice recorder, it would be very difficult to know the cause in this Sriwijaya 182 case,” Mr. Soerjanto said.

The Sriwijaya aircraft was the third to crash into the Java Sea in just over six years after departing from airports on Java, one of Indonesia’s five main islands.

In December 2014, Air Asia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Borneo with 162 people aboard as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Investigators eventually attributed the disaster to the failure of a key component on the Airbus A320-200 and an improper response by the flight crew.

nose-dived into the Java Sea northeast of Jakarta minutes after taking off for Pangkal Pinang with 189 aboard. Investigators concluded that the anti-stall system malfunctioned on the Boeing 737 Max, a newer model than the Boeing that crashed in January.

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Biden to Pay for Infrastructure Plan With 15 Years of Corporate Taxes

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday that the plan Mr. Biden was set to detail on Wednesday was “about making an investment in America — not just modernizing our roads or railways or bridges, but building an infrastructure of the future. So some of it is certainly infrastructure, shovel-ready projects. Some of it is: How do we expand broadband access? Some of it is ensuring that we are addressing the needs in people’s homes and communities.”

Ms. Psaki also suggested that Mr. Biden is not locked in on his preferred tax plans to fund the measure.

“People may have different ideas about how to pay for it,” she said. “We’re open to hearing them. So hopefully people will bring forward ideas.”

A leading business lobbying group in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, welcomed that apparent flexibility and the ambition of Mr. Biden’s plans for physical infrastructure — even as officials continued to warn that Mr. Biden’s corporate tax increases could scuttle the chance of bipartisan cooperation.

“Raising corporate taxes, and others, is kind of a nonstarter for Republicans. It’s kind of a nonstarter for us, too,” said Ed Mortimer, the chamber’s vice president of transportation and infrastructure. But he said: “We believe the administration has opened the door for other ideas to be considered. It’s a legislative process. Whatever the president lays out is not going to be the final bill.”

Mr. Mortimer said the scope of Mr. Biden’s spending proposals appears to be “in line with what we need to do not just to fix our physical infrastructure, but to encourage innovation, to bring clean energy online. The numbers that are being bandied about, they’re high, no doubt about it, but they’re in line with the needs.”

Many Democrats want Mr. Biden to spend even more, or to cut taxes for some residents of high-tax states as part of his plans. On Tuesday, Democrats in both chambers were continuing to pelt the White House with demands for specific policy initiatives to be included in the legislative package, including multiple letters outlining requests for investments in housing initiatives and home and community services.

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Ship Is Freed After a Costly Lesson in the Vulnerabilities of Sea Trade

SUEZ, Egypt — For six days, billions of dollars’ worth of international commerce sat paralyzed at either end of the Suez Canal, stalled thanks to a single giant container ship apparently knocked sideways by a powerful southerly wind.

The ship’s insurers and the canal authorities summoned the largest tugboats in the canal, then two even larger ones from further afield. They deployed diggers, front-end loaders and specialized dredgers to guzzle sand and mud from where the ship was lodged at both ends. They called in eight of the world’s most respected salvage experts from the Netherlands.

Day and night, with international pressure bearing down, the dredgers dredged and the tugboats tugged.

But not until the seventh day, after the confluence of the full moon and the sun conjured an unusually high tide, did the ship wriggle free with one last heave shortly after 3 p.m., allowing the first of the nearly 400 ships waiting to resume their journeys by Monday evening.

reconstruction of the ship’s movements through the narrow section of the canal north of the port of Suez shows the Ever Given weaving back and forth from one side of the canal to the other almost as soon as it entered the channel, gathering speed until the 224,000-ton ship tops 13 knots, or about 15 miles per hour.

internet memes about the epic traffic jam piled up, the Suez Canal Authority and the ship’s owner and insurer scrambled tugboats and dredging equipment to the scene. By the day after the grounding, they had called in a highly regarded team of salvage experts from Smit Salvage, a Dutch company.

“The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented,” Peter Berdowski, chief executive of Royal Boskalis Westminster, Smit’s parent company, said in a statement on Monday.

images emerged on social media of the ship, for so long diagonal, once again parallel with the canal.

celebrated the moment on Twitter, writing that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”

Ms. Stausboll said that the authorities’ often overly rosy projections during the past week left many shipowners confused about what to believe. “A lot in the shipping community would wish there had been more clarity about what was going on in Egypt from the authorities,” she said. “It does harm your reputation.”

In the absence of a faster, cheaper option, however, the Suez Canal will remain a key artery for shippers, she said. And she pointed out that most ships, including large ones, have navigated the canal without incident in the past.

Shippers have, in any case, a more pressing concern: how to resolve the chain reaction of delays that may ripple out for weeks or months even after the Suez backlog clears, as it was beginning to do by Monday night.

The first ship to pass through the canal after the Ever Given got out of the way was the YM Wish, a 1,207-foot-long Hong Kong-flagged container ship that exited the canal at about 9:15 p.m.

If there is schadenfreude among ships, the YM Wish was perhaps not feeling it. VesselFinder.com reported the YM Wish ran aground in the Elbe River in Germany only six years ago. In its case, however, it took less than a day to float again.

Marc Santora contributed reporting from London, Nada Rashwan from Ismailia, Egypt, and Thomas Erdbrink from Amsterdam.

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Czech Billionaire Is Among 5 Killed in Heli-Skiing Crash Near Alaska Glacier

Five people, including the Czech Republic’s richest man, were killed on a heli-skiing excursion on Saturday when their chopper crashed near a glacier in Alaska, officials said.

The Czech billionaire, Petr Kellner, whose net worth has been estimated at $17.5 billion by Forbes, was aboard the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter when it went down near Knik Glacier, the lodge that chartered the aircraft said on Sunday.

Mr. Kellner, 56, was killed, along with another guest of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Benjamin Larochaix, also of the Czech Republic; two of the lodge’s guides, Gregory Harms and Sean McMannany; and the helicopter’s pilot, Zach Russel, officials said.

One survivor was listed in serious but stable condition, according to the Alaska State Troopers, which said that the National Transportation Safety Board would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the crash. Emergency responders said they were notified at 10 p.m. on Saturday that the helicopter had not returned from an excursion and that debris from a crash had been observed near Knik Glacier.

The accident was the latest misadventure for an extreme sport with little margin for error that has become a magnet for thrill seekers. Flights to remote mountains, playgrounds of untouched powder, are known for their steep price tags and risk.

The lodge, which offers weekly packages of $15,000 per person for shared accommodations and heli-skiing charters, expressed its sorrow about the crash in a statement on Sunday night.

“This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased,” the lodge said. “In 17 years of operations this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure.”

A representative for the lodge, which is in Judd Lake, Alaska, said she did not know what caused the crash. Officials said the helicopter was operated by Soloy Helicopters in Wasilla, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lodge confirmed that it had chartered the flight.

According to the lodge, Mr. Kellner was a frequent guest and friend of the resort. His investment company, PPF Group, also confirmed the death in a statement released Monday, saying that the crash was under investigation.

“His professional life was known for his incredible work ethic and creativity, but his private life belonged to his family,” the company said of Mr. Kellner, adding that the funeral would be held with only close family members.

Mr. Kellner made his first fortune in the 1990s after starting an investment fund, which he used to buy a controlling stake in the country’s largest insurance company.

In October, he acquired a major European broadcast network, Central European Media Enterprises, for $1.1 billion, raising concerns in the Czech Republic that the network might lose independence. But in a statement released at the time, Mr. Kellner said the acquisition was driven by “a sense of responsibility” and vowed that the network would retain its objectivity.

PPF Group has also donated millions of respirators and masks and thousands of coronavirus testing kits and swabs to help the Czech Republic in the pandemic, the Czech news media reported.

He was married with four children, according to his company’s website.

According to the lodge, Mr. Harms, 52, was a pioneering guide in the Alaskan heli-skiing community and operated his own excursion business, Third Edge Heli. Mr. McMannany, 38, had been a guide for more than 10 years and was an avalanche instructor, the lodge said.

Details about Mr. Larochaix, 50, and Mr. Russel, 33, the pilot, were not immediately available.

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After a year of the pandemic, public transit around the world is hanging by a thread.

In London, Piccadilly Circus station is nearly empty on a weekday morning, while in Delhi, the Metro ferries fewer than half of the riders it used to. In Rio, bus drivers are on strike, and in New York City, subway traffic is at just a third of normal volume.

A year into the pandemic, public transit is hanging by a thread in many cities. Riders stay home or remain fearful of the close quarters of buses and trains. Without fares, transit revenues have fallen off a cliff. Service has been cut, fares have risen and transport workers are facing layoffs.

That spells disaster for efforts to combat another urgent global crisis: climate change. Public transit is a relatively simple remedy for urban greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention air quality, noise and congestion.

“We are facing maybe the most important crisis in the public transit sector in different parts of the world,” said Sérgio Avelleda, director of urban mobility for the World Resources Institute. “It’s urgent to act.”

But act how? Transit agencies temporarily bailed out by governments wonder how long assistance will last, and experts are scrambling to adapt public transport for cities beginning to emerge from the pandemic.

There are a few outliers. In Shanghai, for example, ridership took a nosedive in February 2020, but has rebounded as new coronavirus infections remain low and the economy improves.

But elsewhere the picture is grim.

On the Paris Métro, ridership was just over half of normal levels early this year. Île-de-France Mobilités, the regional transport agency, said 2020 losses had reached 2.6 billion euros, or over $3 billion.

Amsterdam’s trams and buses have reached about a third of normal volume. Rome’s Metro is drawing fewer than half of its usual passengers.

The London Underground, one of the world’s busiest, is operating at around 20 percent of its usual four million daily journeys. Buses are at around 40 percent of normal.

“It’s been pretty devastating, to be perfectly honest,” said Alex Williams, London’s director of city planning for transport. “One of our concerns are substantial declines in public transport and higher levels of car use.”

Cities could upgrade transportation systems now so passengers will return, said Mohamed Mezghani, head of the International Association of Public Transport.

“People will feel more comfortable traveling in a new modern public transit system” after the pandemic, Mr. Mezghani said. “It’s about perception in the end.”

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What the people cleaning New York City’s subway want passengers to know.

Cleaning the New York City subway has always been a dirty job. But when the pandemic hit last spring, it became even more challenging. When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that trains be shut down overnight for cleaning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority turned to contractors to help undertake the monumental task of scouring the trains in the nation’s largest transit system.

The thousands of workers the contractors hired — largely low-income immigrants from Latin America — were envisioned as a stopgap measure, as M.T.A. workers were falling ill and dying of the virus.

Nearly a year later, the workers are still toiling at stations all over the city. Some are paid as little as half as much as the M.T.A. employees who did the same work before the pandemic began, and many without access to health insurance.

Now, as the M.T.A. prepares to welcome more passengers, the workers are pushing back, raising concerns about their safety, salaries and working conditions.

The New York Times interviewed a dozen contract cleaners, including three who in late February met with Patrick J. Foye, the M.T.A.’s chairman and chief executive, to describe their job and share a list of “needs” with transit agency leadership.

Their accounts paint a picture of dismal working conditions and highlight their unequal treatment compared with transit cleaners, who are paid up to $30 an hour and enjoy health insurance and other benefits, uniforms and MetroCards to swipe themselves into the system.

Beatriz Muñoz, 38, cleaned trains for six months last year at the terminus of the Q line at 96th Street in Manhattan. When cars arrived that were closed to passengers because they had been sullied, “we were the ones who had to go in there,” she said. “We would be praying to God that we wouldn’t get sick.”

Their complaints appear to show how the M.T.A.’s contractors have relied on a labor force that has been desperate for work at a time when hundreds of thousands have lost jobs in cleaning, construction and restaurants.

An M.T.A. spokeswoman, Abbey Collins, said the agency was disinfecting the subway with the help of “licensed and reputable outside companies whose performance is monitored regularly.”

Ms. Muñoz was paid $20 an hour. She brought her own mask, gloves and soap to clean her rags, she said.

She and her co-workers were told not to drink beverages on the job so they would not need to use the bathroom. “It was an oven in the summer,” she said. “We had to sneak sips of water.”

When inspectors came, she said, no one said a word. “Truthfully, we were all afraid.”

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Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers

Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who played an influential role in helping Mr. Biden secure the party’s presidential nomination, has also been a major voice highlighting the experience of Black farmers and helped drive the stimulus provisions, according to congressional staff aides.

The funding aims to address longstanding problems with discrimination at the Agriculture Department — particularly its refusal to grant farmers of color the same access to capital that helped tide over white farmers during difficult periods in history. Minority farmers have confronted other issues, like a lack of access to legal services that have complicated farm inheritances, and a lack of public investment in rural communities and on reservations, including in the water supply and roads and transportation to get farm products to market.

Those factors led to a substantial loss of land. While the number of farmers in the United States has fallen sharply over the past century as farms mechanized and more people found work in factories and offices, Black farmers suffered disproportionately.

According to Agriculture Department data, in 1920, the United States had 925,708 Black farmers, making up 14 percent of farmers in the country. But by 2017, only 35,470 of the nation’s more than two million farms were run by Black producers, or 1.7 percent.

Joe Patterson, 70, whose family has farmed in the Mississippi Delta for decades, said discriminatory lending had forced many Black farmers around him out of business over the years, and led to some lean times for his own family.

Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus Package

The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.

Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more

This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.

There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.

The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.

“When it all boiled down to it, it was a lack of funds that kept the Black farmers down,” said Mr. Patterson, who spoke by phone from the cab of a tractor he had pulled over to the side of the road. “If we had the same amount of investment that the other farmers had, a lot of Black farmers would still be farming this date.”

He added, “But because they didn’t have those funds, each year would get worse and worse.”

Anthony Daniels, a Democrat in Alabama’s state legislature who serves on the board of One Country Project, a Democratic group focused on rural issues, said that many Black farmers were still suffering from burdensome debt, and that the stimulus provisions would help them pay off loans and related taxes.

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5 Things We Know About Flying This Summer

If the start of spring break is any indication — when an average of more than a million fliers a day passed through security at U.S. airports — domestic summer travel is poised to pop.

Airlines have been expanding their route networks, especially in vacation destinations, as competition for leisure travelers heats up. Leisure travelers are expected to lead the recovery as business travel continues to lag.

Here are five things we know about flying this summer.

According to the airline industry group Airlines for America, passenger volume on U.S. carriers was down 53 percent in mid-March compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, but up from the darkest days of the pandemic, when it bottomed out below 90 percent.

With the soft bounce, only Delta Air Lines has continued to block middle seats through April. It would not comment on an extension. (Alaska Airlines is keeping middle seats open in its Premium Class through May 31).

Global Business Travel Association doesn’t expect a full business travel recovery before 2025.

The expansion of low-cost carriers during the pandemic is likely to keep prices down.

“Leisure low-cost carriers will be back to 2019 levels this summer, maybe even a little bit higher,” said Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst at Raymond James & Associates.

Southwest Airlines plans to begin service to Myrtle Beach, S.C., this summer, one of 17 destinations it has added or announced in the pandemic, including Palm Springs, Calif., and Bozeman, Mont.

Spirit Airlines is adding St. Louis, Mo., and Milwaukee. Shortly after Feb. 23, when Spirit announced it would serve Louisville, Ky., a Hopper survey found competing fares from Louisville to Las Vegas went from $330 to $225 round-trip.

Breeze Airways and Avelo Airlines, expected to launch this year. “The more low-fare airlines, the more low-fare seats available to the public, not just on these airlines, but on carriers that compete with them.”

During the pandemic, most airlines eliminated their cancellation and change fees (though Southwest never charged them), but the rules are changing for some of the cheapest fares.

By April, basic economy tickets at American and Delta will become nonrefundable and nonchangeable, as they were before the pandemic. United said it hasn’t decided whether to extend the waiver on basic fares past March 31.

Beginning April 1, JetBlue passengers buying the carrier’s basic fare will be subject to change and cancellation fees.

Ultra-low-cost carriers are also ditching waivers. Spirit is suspending fees on tickets booked only through the end of March. After March 31, change fees at Frontier Airlines will range from zero to $59, depending on when a ticket is changed.

Many travelers who had to cancel their plans since the pandemic have received vouchers for use on future flights that normally expire after a year. A study by TripActions, a business travel management company, found that 55 percent of vouchers for unused tickets will expire in 2021, and 45 percent in 2022.

The fight for refunds from pandemic-related cancellations continues. This month, Consumer Reports and U.S. Public Interest Research Group sent a letter to 10 airlines demanding refunds if requested — citing the nearly 90,000 refund complaints received by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2020, representing 87 percent of all complaints about airlines — and an extension of voucher expirations to the end of 2022.

Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Move over, Biscoff cookies. Chicken wraps and Coca-Cola are poised to make a comeback.

During the pandemic, many airlines reduced or eliminated food service, but this summer, Frontier Airlines plans to resume food sales. United said it will adjust its policies in the coming weeks. Southwest plans to add soft drinks in addition to cups of water with its snacks. Delta implemented a new touchless paying system on March 16 for onboard sales, currently limited to earbuds, but expected to expand to food and drink.

“This is one of the biggest gripes passengers have about flying right now,” Mr. Harteveldt said, noting that in many airports, concessions remain closed, making it hard for travelers to bring their own food on board. “If health considerations are improving to where restaurants can reopen and if industry-funded research shows airplanes are one of the cleanest and safest places to be, and you layer in vaccinations, I think airlines have no choice than to plan to resume cabin service.”

Most observers say the protocols airlines put in place to make the public feel safe about flying again — especially deep cleaning and mask mandates — will continue.

Airlines had mask mandates before the Biden administration’s executive order went into effect Feb. 1. Implementing the order, the Transportation Security Administration requires masks in airports and on planes until May 11.

A T.S.A. spokeswoman said it was too soon to say what will happen after that date, but given airline support, masks are likely to be required going forward.

requiring face-coverings for all passengers and customer-facing employees since last April, and this policy will remain in place for the duration of the pandemic,” wrote Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for group, in an email.

A recent J.D. Power survey of more than 1,500 travelers in airports found 58 percent said requiring masks was the most important safety measure for airports to adopt; 42 percent said they would likely continue mask-wearing and social distancing through 2021 and beyond.

Even if you can eat in the air, don’t expect to remove the masks for prolonged periods. “Masks must be worn between bites and sips,” United says on its website.

The lack of international and business travel has scrambled the airline route map. Flights to international business destinations like London and Frankfurt were trimmed in favor of more flights to vacation destinations, particularly in Florida and Mountain States like Montana.

Comparing March 2021 to March 2019, nearly all states saw declines in scheduled flights. Only traffic to South Dakota and Montana grew.

Most carriers are announcing new service to leisure destinations in time for summer and in many cases are offering convenient point-to-point service, modeled on low-cost carriers, rather than routing fliers through hubs.

There are new flights to Honolulu from Austin, Texas, coming in April on Hawaiian Airlines. With partners JetBlue and Alaska, American is adding 10 routes from Austin. Southwest plans to extend its original winter service to Telluride and Steamboat Springs, Colo., through the summer. JetBlue recently added Miami and Key West, Fla., and Allegiant is new to Key West, Jackson, Wyo., and Portland, Ore.

While the trend may be rural, bargains remain in cities.

“U.S. cities are very affordable this summer, and appear poised to make a comeback,” wrote Mel Dohmen, a spokeswoman at the online travel agency Orbitz in an email, noting flights to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle are all cheaper this July compared to July 2019.

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Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny

Tesla faced numerous questions about its Autopilot technology after a Florida driver was killed in 2016 when the system of sensors and cameras failed to see and brake for a tractor-trailer crossing a road.

Now the company is facing more scrutiny than it has in the last five years for Autopilot, which Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, have long maintained makes its cars safer than other vehicles. Federal officials are looking into a series of recent accidents involving Teslas that either were using Autopilot or might have been using it.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed last week that it was investigating 23 such crashes. In one accident this month, a Tesla Model Y rear-ended a police car that had stopped on a highway near Lansing, Mich. The driver, who was not seriously injured, had been using Autopilot, the police said.

In February in Detroit, under circumstances similar to the 2016 Florida accident, a Tesla drove beneath a tractor-trailer that was crossing the road, tearing the roof off the car. The driver and a passenger were seriously injured. Officials have not said whether the driver had turned on Autopilot.

crash near Houston in which a Tesla ran into a stopped police vehicle on a highway. It is not clear if the driver was using Autopilot. The car did not appear to slow before the impact, the police said.

Autopilot is a computerized system that uses radar and cameras to detect lane markings, other vehicles and objects in the road. It can steer, brake and accelerate automatically with little input from the driver. Tesla has said it should be used only on divided highways, but videos on social media show drivers using Autopilot on various kinds of roads.

“We need to see the results of the investigations first, but these incidents are the latest examples that show these advanced cruise-control features Tesla has are not very good at detecting and then stopping for a vehicle that is stopped in a highway circumstance,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a group created in the 1970s by Consumers Union and Ralph Nader.

This renewed scrutiny arrives at a critical time for Tesla. After reaching a record high this year, its share price has fallen about 20 percent amid signs that the company’s electric cars are losing market share to traditional automakers. Ford Motor’s Mustang Mach E and the Volkswagen ID.4 recently arrived in showrooms and are considered serious challengers to the Model Y.

The outcome of the current investigations is important not only for Tesla but for other technology and auto companies that are working on autonomous cars. While Mr. Musk has frequently suggested the widespread use of these vehicles is near, Ford, General Motors and Waymo, a division of Google’s parent, Alphabet, have said that moment could be years or even decades away.

played a major role” in the 2016 Florida accident. It also said the technology lacked safeguards to prevent drivers from taking their hands off the steering wheel or looking away from the road. The safety board reached similar conclusions when it investigated a 2018 accident in California.

By comparison, a similar G.M. system, Super Cruise, monitors a driver’s eyes and switches off if the person looks away from the road for more than a few seconds. That system can be used only on major highways.

In a Feb. 1 letter, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Robert Sumwalt, criticized NHTSA for not doing more to evaluate Autopilot and require Tesla to add safeguards that prevent drivers from misusing the system.

The new administration in Washington could take a firmer line on safety. The Trump administration did not seek to impose many regulations on autonomous vehicles and sought to ease other rules the auto industry did not like, including fuel-economy standards. By contrast, President Biden has appointed an acting NHTSA administrator, Steven Cliff, who worked at the California Air Resources Board, which frequently clashed with the Trump administration on regulations.

Concerns about Autopilot could dissuade some car buyers from paying Tesla for a more advanced version, Full Self-Driving, which the company sells for $10,000. Many customers have paid for it in the expectation of being able to use it in the future; Tesla made the option operational on about 2,000 cars in a “beta” or test version starting late last year, and Mr. Musk recently said the company would soon make it available to more cars. Full Self Driving is supposed to be able to operate Tesla cars in cities and on local roads where driving conditions are made more complex by oncoming traffic, intersections, traffic lights, pedestrians and cyclists.

Despite their names, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving have big limitations. Their software and sensors cannot control cars in many situations, which is why drivers have to keep their eyes on the road and hands on or close to the wheel.

a November letter to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles that recently became public, a Tesla lawyer acknowledged that Full Self-Driving struggled to react to a wide range of driving situations and should not be considered a fully autonomous driving system.

The system is not “not capable of recognizing or responding” to certain “circumstances and events,” Eric C. Williams, Tesla’s associate general counsel, wrote. “These include static objects and road debris, emergency vehicles, construction zones, large uncontrolled intersections with multiple incoming ways, occlusions, adverse weather, complicated or adversarial vehicles in the driving paths, unmapped roads.”

Mr. Levine of the Center for Auto Safety has complained to federal regulators that the names Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are misleading at best and could be encouraging some drivers to be reckless.

“Autopilot suggests the car can drive itself and, more importantly, stop itself,” he said. “And they doubled down with Full Self-Driving, and again that leads consumers to believe the vehicle is capable of doing things it is not capable of doing.”

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