Re­port: Jet pi­lots ini­tially fol­lowed Boe­ing’s emer­gency pro­ce­dures

The Tribune (SLO) - - News -

Pi­lots of an air­liner that crashed last month in Ethiopia ini­tially fol­lowed Boe­ing’s emer­gency steps for deal­ing with a sudden down­turn of the nose of their plane but could not re­gain con­trol, ac­cord­ing to a pub­lished re­port.

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported Wed­nes­day that pi­lots of the Ethiopian Air­lines Boe­ing 737 Max turned off a flight-con­trol sys­tem but still couldn’t get the plane to climb. They turned the sys­tem back on and tried other ac­tions be­fore the plane crashed, the pa­per said, cit­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with pre­lim­i­nary find­ings of the crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In a state­ment, Boe­ing urged against spec­u­lat­ing be­fore the pre­lim­i­nary re­port and flight data from the plane are re­leased.

The Jour­nal says the pi­lots’ ac­tions are still be­ing eval­u­ated by in­ves­ti­ga­tors but could raise ques­tions about as­ser­tions made by Boe­ing and U.S. reg­u­la­tors in the af­ter­math of an­other Max crash in Oc­to­ber that pi­lots could re­gain con­trol sim­ply by fol­low­ing steps to turn off a spe­cific an­ti­stall sys­tem.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­am­in­ing the crashes that killed all 346 aboard the 737 Max 8 jets op­er­ated by In­done­sia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Air­lines, in­clud­ing the role of a flight­con­trol sys­tem called MCAS, which un­der some cir­cum­stances could au­to­mat­i­cally turn the plane’s nose down to prevent an aero­dy­namic stall.

The Jour­nal re­ported that data down­loaded from the plane’s so-called black boxes in­di­cates that the Ethiopian Air­lines pi­lots fol­lowed rec­om­men­da­tions to flip two switches that dis­con­nected the sys­tem, but the plane kept sinking. They turned a man­ual wheel that adjusts the plane’s tail, and used elec­tric switches in an ef­fort to climb, but that re­ac­ti­vated MCAS, which con­tin­ued to push the plane’s nose lower.

Ethiopian in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­pected to release their pre­lim­i­nary find­ings in the next few days.

Boe­ing is the fo­cus of in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, and con­gres­sional com­mit­tees. In­ves­ti­ga­tions are also look­ing at the role of the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which cer­ti­fied the Max in 2017 and de­clined to ground it af­ter the first deadly crash in Oc­to­ber.


Res­cuers work March 11 at the scene of an Ethiopian Air­lines crash in Ethiopia.

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