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Pilots in Ethiopian Airlines crash followed procedure

by Harvest Prude
Posted 4/03/19, 12:12 pm

Pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed in March followed Boeing’s recommended emergency procedures but could not get control of the plane, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The crew turned off the flight control system that pushed the plane’s nose down after takeoff but could not get it to correct course, people familiar with the investigation’s preliminary findings told the Journal. Eventually, the pilots reengaged the automated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System on the Boeing 737 Max in an attempt to make the plane climb, which could indicate the pilots tried and failed to correct the plane manually. All 157 people on board died in the crash.

After the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air 737 Max in Indonesia that killed all 189 on board, Boeing directed airlines to review “existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is an erroneous input from an AOA (angle of attack) sensor.” The jet’s new flight control software automatically lowers the plane’s nose if one or both sensors detects it is pointed too high. Authorities suspect malfunctioning sensors contributed to both crashes.

If the Journal’s findings are confirmed, the emergency procedures in the Boeing handbook may not have been enough to prevent a crash. Nations around the world grounded the 737 Max airplanes after authorities found similarities between the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Ethiopian investigators are expected to release preliminary findings about the crash soon.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 04/03/2019 01:18 pm

    I wonder whether seat-of-the-pants flying has become passé.  Pilots are very well trained, I am sure; but can it be that procedure has supplanted skill in the training?  Can it also be that technology has made seat-of-the-pants impossible?

  • Edward Boersma
    Posted: Thu, 04/04/2019 12:02 am

    When I was taught to fly an airplane, I had to promise that I would learn to fly in a "tail dragger."  I promised. Why?

    Because I would learn to be a better "seat of the pants" pilot.  My instructor was right.

    Ed Boersma