Ethiopian Blames Design Failures and Inadequate Pilot Training for 737 Max Plane Crash

By Staff Reporter

ET-737-BoeingMarch 10, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia has said “design failures and inadequate training for pilots” caused last year’s crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after takeoff.

In an interim report released on Monday by Ethiopia’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau said a new flight-control system that Boeing installed on the 737 Max had pushed the nose of the plane down and cause the accident.

The Ethiopian interim report comes a day before the one-year anniversary of the crash of the Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX six minutes after takeoff killing 157 passengers..

“The flight control system, called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, defeated the pilots’ efforts to control the 737 Max plane. When it triggered for the fourth and final time, the pilots fought back by pulling on their control columns with up to 180 pounds of force, but the nose of the plane sank even more and the jet flew even faster,” the report said  

Shortly before the crash, the plane was streaking downward at 575 mph — at a rate of more than 5,000 feet per minute — with its nose tilted down at a 40-degree angle, according to the interim report.

All 157 people on board were killed when flight 302 crashed into a field six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa. Every Max jet worldwide was grounded within days of the crash — the second involving a Boeing Max in less than five months.

The Ethiopian investigators issued several recommendations to Boeing and placed little blame on the airline or its pilots. In that regard, the Ethiopian update differed from a final report that Indonesian investigators issued after a 737 Max operated by Lion Air crashed in October 2018 and killed all 189 people on board.

Ethiopia’s report is not that much different from a preliminary report the government issued last April. Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said they were reviewing the update, but both already seemed to be looking ahead to a final report that the Ethiopians are expected to issue later this year.

“We believe it’s important to have the full final report to evaluate it against other independent reports so that we might fully understand all of the factors -- both mechanical and human -- that played a role in this tragic loss of life,” the FAA said in a statement from spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

The Ethiopian Investigation Bureau made six recommendations, all aimed at Boeing or the US  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which certified the plane in 2017. Boeing is addressing some of the recommendations by changing MCAS to make it less powerful. It is also endorsing the use of flight simulators to train pilots on how MCAS makes flying the Max different from previous models of the 737.

Ethiopia’s interim report made no recommendations for Ethiopian Airlines, which has defended the actions of its pilots. The update, however, pointed out again that pilots on flight 302 restored power to the MCAS flight-control system after initially turning it off.

In a statement, Boeing said it continued to provide technical help to the investigators as they finish their work.

The final report could influence how soon the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will let the grounded Max fly again. It also will be helpful in training pilots on how to handle the blizzard of alarms that go off when a plane starts having problems so they can diagnose the trouble and deal with the most critical things.

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