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Audio reveals pilots angrily confronting Boeing about 737 Max feature before second deadly crash

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Just months before a second deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max airplane, American Airlines pilots angrily confronted Boeing. (amp.cnn.com) More...

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Cansojr
Cansojr 33
I am not criticizing these pilots. They were doing everything possible to save the lives of the passengers. As the situation became tenuous their tempers flared nothing could help them from the emergency manual. Unfortunately when no answers were found in the emergency procedures and logically they were frantic for a procedure or a switch to get them out of this mess. They are to be commended for staying with it all the way down in a horrifying last minute. May they all rest in peace.
KobeHunte
Kobe Hunte 6
Good comment Cansojr. I hope this problem is solved for good soon. It has been a little too long already for airlines that almost rely on the 737 Max to keep them in business.
Cansojr
Cansojr 4
Thank you for the input because it really helps us all when we are on our game. Thanks Cansojr
Cansojr
Cansojr 3
Meant to say thanks from me for their encouragement.
KobeHunte
Kobe Hunte 2
Yup I got you.
KobeHunte
Kobe Hunte 2
agreed.
charpini
Thank you they deserve an honorary place in the company’s crew list! May they Rest In Peace
bbabis
Bill Babis -1
Yes, MCAS malfunction was not in the manual. The crews probably did not know about the system also. That being said, any pilot fighting the controls on any aircraft should know or look in the flight control/ trim system malfunction checklists which were there. One crew never turned the trim off which sealed their fate and one crew did turn it off and inexplicably turned it back on which sealed their fate. This problem had also happened to other crews both foreign and domestic and proper actions by those crews lead to uneventful landings.
ReverendLee
Scott Lee 8
According to the data, the Ethiopian Airlines pilots re-engaged the stabilizer controls (thus re-enabling MCAS) when they were unable to move the stabilizer with the manual controls.

+ Disabling MCAS also disables electronic control of the stabilizer, forcing pilots to use a wheel to move the stabilizer via cables. The assumption is that the pilots were unable to move the stabilizer manually because of the air load on the stabilizer. That is when they re-enabled MCAS.

[ https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-altered-key-switches-in-737-max-cockpit-limiting-ability-to-shut-off-mcas/ ]
lecompte2
lecompte2 8
I'd like to see you in the seat with no knowledge and seconds to act. Even now with your knowledge I could put you in a nose high situation in the Max and you probably could not recover at low altitude.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
I can only answer each of the two parts of your statement. No knowledge = probably crash ; with my knowledge = probably do fine. Hope to never find out. It is an unforgiving occupation.
lecompte2
lecompte2 9
Try this in the simulator; get the Max into a low speed high nose angle coupled with high angle of attack indication, you will be pushing forward on the control column to recover and of course the MCAS will be trimming the stabilizer nose down. As the aircraft approaches level flight you will attempt to maintain level fight but the stabilizer will be trimmed probably full nose down resulting in a dive. Of course being an experienced pilot you will activate the cutout switches, keep pulling on the elevator with both hands and attempt to return the stabilizer manually. Good luck and we all hope you are very high when this happens. Of course with the aerodynamic design as it is you could not recover from the nose high situation without the trim (stab) just saying and we hope the FAA tries this.
gcottay
Wow, Bill. If you fly I hope it's all solo.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
Thanks George, 15,000+ hrs and have loved every minute. I hope yours are just as safe and enjoyable.
Blue skies and tailwinds.
Cansojr
Cansojr 2
Amen.
lecompte2
lecompte2 8
Criminal behavior fro Boeing
sgbelverta
sharon bias 21
So marketing and sales tells management we need a new plane or an updated plane to compete with Airbus. It gets kicked down to engineering. Updating an old plane is much cheaper and quicker than a new plane design, so that's the chosen path. Engineering see's the problems that they're going to have, so they have to design all sorts of work around's to keep the 737Max in the air. But then management says the updated plane can't have to be re-certified by the FAA, nor do the airlines have to retrain their pilots. Engineers add more work around's to meet this management requirement. If you put some of the backdoor updates in the pilots manuals, that might alert the airlines and FAA that something major was changed, so that gets left out. Since Boeing is self certifying their work, they're more worried about airline complaints than the FAA. Marketing is now in top form, telling the airlines they get all the new aircraft features without retraining their pilots. And by the way, some of those new safety features now cost extra. US pilot's are aware there is a serious problem with the 737Max, bringing it to Boeing's attention. They get ignored.

Two of the new and improved planes crash, killing 346 souls.

It's not who to blame, it's where to start the blame. There were so many places this process could have been halted for more review. This will become a text book case of how not to run a business in future college courses.
charpini
Very well said nothing to be added👌
Mikedryden
Mike Dryden 4
‘maybe once you’re ever going to see this’ or words to that effect. Much like a V1 engine cut... yet how many times do pilots go through that scenario in the sim? Dumb argument.
cbuckley
cbuckley 2
if boeing and the design of this 737 is to blame why have only two crashes occured out of the hundreds of these aircraft in service?
lynx318
lynx318 2
Is it just me or is anyone else wondering why the pilots weren't able to override the MCAS through control column use as like happens with Autopilot? Politely inform me if I have this wrong as it seems to be the case.
bbabis
Bill Babis 8
Short answer. MCAS has control of the horizontal stabilizer which is much more powerful in controlling pitch than the elevator controlled through the control column.
Highflyer1950
Yours was shorter than mine, good job.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Yours described the systems and how they interact very well. A good read.
lynx318
lynx318 1
This doesn't answer my question of why MCAS cannot be overridden in an emergency, surely that would be the most important protocol.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
Because MCAS has control over the more powerful pitch control surface it cannot simply be overpowered by the crew manually with the elevator. If it malfunctions, the only way for the crew to gain total control of pitch is to disable MCAS. This also must be done before aerodynamic forces are allowed to build on the stabilizer and essentially jam it.
lynx318
lynx318 1
If the stabiliser can be taken to the point of jamming, with no way of overcoming it, this sounds like a design fault from the very start, MCAS or not.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
The MCAS story is posted in many places and the bottom line is that it did wind up with more authority over the stab than initially intended. The jamming comes from fighting the stab position with the elevator. It can be overcome by moving the elevator in the opposite direction to unload the stab and manually trimming. As you can imagine this would take a lot of altitude or some wild flying to accomplish, hence the need to recognize and counter the malfunction quickly.
lynx318
lynx318 1
Definitely not something to try and overcome during landing/takeoff scenarios.
ed7778
Serious question: Isn't a movable horizontal stabilizer called a stabilator? Controlling a horizontal stabilizer confused me as I assumed they are fixed. Yes, I know about trim tabs and elevators.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Good question Dennis. I believe it's a stabilator when it has sole control of pitch with no attached elevator and is controlled with the flight control. If it has an attached elevator and is moved only through the trim system it is a moveable stabilizer.
ed7778
Thank you. I've flown only the Cessna 172. It makes sense that mere trim tabs cannot stabilize those flying behemoths or other high-speed aircraft.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
You're an airman like anybody else no matter what you fly. Be open for knowledge and always bring your best airmanship to the game.

You don't have the time or the luck to make every mistake yourself, so you have to learn from others.
Highflyer1950
I think the short answer is that the MCAS forces the stabilizer to the trim downward position in increments. As the pilot uses the electric trim to overcome this nose down tendency, they then stop trimming as necessary. Then the MCAS (connected to the stab trim actuator) kicks back in again and places the aircraft back in a nose down. All the time the pilots are pulling on the control columns (elevators) like crazy to get the nose up. The MCAS resets every 5-7 seconds when the electric trim switches are released, driving the stab to it’s limit in small increments. When the stab reaches it’s mechanical limit and the airspeed is allowed to increase dramatically, the air loading on the tail renders the electric trim useless as does pulling on the columns. The stab is at it’s nose down limit and the elevators are at their nose up limit. At this time even manual movement of the trim wheels is unlikely to succeed as the air loading is so great the force required to move those trim wheels is too much. The stabilizer is larger and more powerful than the elevators. Some aircraft have the stab move with flap extension to overcome out of trim forces when selecting flaps. just my 2 cents.
cordery
So this appears to be a XXI century perfect storm. You take “the workhorse of the skies” you add a whole series of profit maximizing requirements and find that it will not fly. Just like VW Mercedes et al with the emissions fraud, you get the software people to make the thing fly. You kinda hide some of the embroidery out of embarrassment, collusion or criminal neglect but it happens. People die, you go into denial, it becomes clear that the FAA does not do their job (who needs regulation anyway right? Yuck yuck..well only when dealing with humans).
What was the motivation behind this whole sordid affair now affecting a once great company? Money. Not for future research, not to better compete with Airbus but to reward the Board, the key executives, the major shareholders. Sordid is to kind a word for this.
ianbtv
Ian Campbell 1
Who would engineer an automated system relying on >one< of a type of mechanical sensor (AOA)? Duplicity of this nature goes back far before aviation or automobiles (I'm thinking Westinghouse brakes on railroad cars). One sensor? How is it possible???
SIERRA09
Ed Crist 1
Any bets on how many top management people at Boeing will lose their jobs? I am betting zip, nada, none. Most likely they will all enjoy their yearly huge bonuses; business as usual at Boeing.
vchenevey
VL Chenevey 1
Did any of you read the article? The pilots "angrily confronting Boeing" were in a meeting that occurred after the first crash and before the second crash. They were not the pilots in the planes that crashed.

All these comments are about what the pilots said in the cockpit as they struggled with the MCAS, which is not in this article.

"They were doing everything possible to save the lives of the passengers. As the situation became tenuous their tempers flared nothing could help them from the emergency manual." Where did this come from???
FaisalNahian
Anyone discovered the actual audio link?

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Cansojr
Cansojr 12
Jim I am a retired pilot, 64 years old and I have approximately 10,000 hours flying light and heavy aircraft. No one I have seen so far have not dared to slander the skills of these fine airmen and pilots first and last. You just wanted to see your absurd squawk in print.
Highflyer1950
I think I have to agree with Cansoir on this one. The B737 is one of the easiest aircraft to fly....it has to be so every country in the world can use them! Maybe the aircraft has become far too complex from the original type to just hand over without further training? Too many pilots graduate today with a lack of understanding on the characteristics of a stabilizer/elevator relationship to one another. A stab that is driven to the stops by the jack screw is almost impossible to overcome with elevator input at high airspeeds. Unfortunately, unloading the tail requires one to push in the opposite direction while using yoke trim switches to raise the nose to get to a positive trim setting. Not so easy when low to Mother Earth! Once at a positive trim setting, both trim cutout switches are turned off and manual trim used while making small thrust adjustments. At least that is my understanding. All very easy weeks into this issue, but not the case when faced with the issue with no previous knowledge? I get Boeing that mucked up by re labelling the trim switches but most crews notice a trim malfunction quite quickly while hand flying the aircraft. A lot of blame here on both sides. The Abus is the same with its autotrim always running in the background, but at least they teach Normal, Alternate 1 & 2 and Direct Laws.
Quirkyfrog
But I don't think this is a 'trim' system. This is a software 'fix' for a lazy management created problem. They *KNEW* the plane should be re-enginered WHILE THEY WERE BUILDING IT, and still made the decision to not 'fork' the design, and have to go through lengthy and expensive testing of their new Frankenstein creation.

They had to beat Airbus, and HAD to get the plane out the door, and start marking up orders. They DAMN WELL KNEW the new big engines were causing the plane to pull up, and rather than admit it was a poor as hell idea to glue big ass engines on and assume all would be good, they 'fixed it' with a shitty 'bandaid' that countered that tendency by pushing the nose to the ground REGARDLESS OF ALTITUDE, SPEED, any other environmental issues. AND they HID the 'fix' from people, because they knew damn well it was stupid, lazy, cowardly.

They SHOULD have retested the damn plane with the Frankenstein engines on it. They SHOULD have had to re-engineer the wings and engine placement, (maybe raise the damn fuselage on the ground? Taller wheel struts like every other 'big plane'?

Boeing very much tried to do an end run around the laws of physics with a ridiculous 'fix' that violated everything they have ever stood for, and learned over the many decades of powered flight. They made the choice to 'fast track' the 'Glorious New 737-MAX! The Airbus Killer that everyone will buy by the hundreds'!

But the laws of physics are absolute. You can only go just so far, and they break. They knew that, but they ignored the possibility that they were committing the other screwup: You can't patch your way out of a crappy design. They learned redundancy, redundancy , REDUNDANCY!!! You ALWAYS have backups of vital systems, and NEVER NEVER NEVER operate flight critical functions on ONLY ONE SENSOR!

And they offered a second sensor and the system to notify the pilots of a problem AS A DAMN OPTION!!!

The entire board of Boeing should hang for those two crashes and the hot mess the 737-MAX is. The FAA should be hung for letting Boeing shoot themselves in the head, and kill over 300 people in a plane they KNEW was a time bomb. The CEO and engineering department heads should be jailed for negligent homicide for those deaths. Their accounting department and sales departments should be cleaned out of anyone that pushed for the 'MAX" to be shipped as is.

Boeing KNEW!!! They are GUILTY!!!
Cansojr
Cansojr 2
Exceptional point. This is not really a 737 of the conventional era.
This s you aptly called it a Franken Monster. Burns more fuel, very noisy on departure. Anyone who actually flew on this flying lemon should be acknowledged with their role of surviving passengers from other flights. This aircraft should be reehgineered until we know that they are actually safe.
Highflyer1950
I understand your frustration at why didn’t they just build a new plane, probably a good idea in hindsight. I do however believe Boeing underestimated the force of their new MCAS and most likely thought that no pilot would allow a runaway MCAS/Stab or elevator trim motor to operate long enough or reset every 5 seconds to drive the jack screw to the stops without countering with yoke trim switch and then shutting down the whole system with the cut out switches. Manual wheel trim overrides motorized trim in all circumstances but is rarely taught on recurrent. Whether the MCAS was tied in to just one AOA vane sensor or the aircraft was ordered without the Flight display AOA option which included the AOA disagreement annunciator still doesn’t answer the basic question of why 1 out of 3 crews were successful in identifying the problem? If it were 0/3 I would agree with you. Interesting that Boeing did in fact lengthen the Nose strut 8”, moved the “frankenstein” engines further forward on re-engineered pylons, but never offered a paragraph on MCAS which by now every pilot in the world is an expert on?
KobeHunte
Kobe Hunte -1
Robert I agree with you but next time can you keep it a little calmer and cleaner? Thanks.
Cansojr
Cansojr 1
This explanation of the elevator is simply brilliant, nicely done Highflyer 1950. Well composed and very clear for the layman.
Foxtrot789
Foxtrot789 -2
What is it then that you're doing here 'for all the world to see'? You capitalize the word 'proves' which is a strong phrase to use when there's been zero official report on either accident. This, 'SUGGESTS' to me that you either have no idea what you're talking about, or, you're part of the NTSB team and you just announced a massive finding in the case that nobody else seems to be reporting.

Let's pretend both aircraft had runaway rudder conditions, completely uninfluenced at all by the MCAS... The result would have likely been the same because the symptoms are roughly the same and the executed procedures by the pilots would have also been the same.

Bottom line is that you can blame whomever you want but proper procedures, regardless of which system failed, would have likely had different outcomes. Forgive my imperfect analogy but in your car, you can turn the cruise control on, drive it into a wall and claim "well I wasn't trained in the cruise control software". But if you never touched the brake pedal was the problem in the software?
gcottay
Please read evidence more carefully and reconsider. The air load on the stabilizer was such that the pilots could not move it manually. Using your analogy, you put all your desperate strength into that brake pedal and you and your passengers still slam into that wall.
ElliotCannon
It's all about profits my friends. Why do you think they all went from 4 engine airplanes to two engine airplanes for extended over water flights? Because it is safer?LOL No, because it is cheaper and increases profits. All about profit. "After all, we are not communists"! - Don Barzini
pilot62
Where is the flipping breaker !!
you can override anything in a 150
Cansojr
Cansojr 0
Or you are with a student trying his best to send me to my funeral.

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