Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud RSS
 

Lion Air’s Cockpit Voice Recorder Reveals Struggle to Override Flight Control System

Savvy readers of 21st Century Wire will know that automated flight control systems have been scrutinized far more outside of the mainstream news coverage than within it. Case in point, 21WIRE Associate Editor Shawn Helton’s investigative report on Boeing’s ‘Uninterruptible Autopilot System’ published back in 2014.

As more details emerge about the recent Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes, more questions are being asked to help inform the public about the capabilities of these aviation systems and what is actually required of pilots to safely and efficiently operate them in our skies.

Will the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flight disasters finally bring to light the risks associated with automated flight control systems?

More on this story from ZeroHedge…

A doomed Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 that crashed shortly after takeoff on March 10 had “clear similarities” to an October 2018 crash of the same type of airplane, according to Ethiopia’s transport minister. Today, Reuters sheds light on exactly what happened that fateful day last year off the coast of Indonesia.

Lion Air Boeing 737-8 MAX
Lion Air Boeing 737-8 MAX

According to a new report, the cockpit voice recorder of the October crash which killed all 189 people onboard reveals that the pilots were scouring the plane’s manual to understand why the plane kept lurching downwards – only to run out of time before it hit the water, reports Reuters, citing three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents.

The captain was at the controls of Lion Air flight JT610 when the nearly new jet took off from Jakarta, and the first officer was handling the radio, according to a preliminary report issued in November.

Just two minutes into the flight, the first officer reported a “flight control problem” to air traffic control and said the pilots intended to maintain an altitude of 5,000 feet, the November report said.

The first officer did not specify the problem, but one source said airspeed was mentioned on the cockpit voice recording, and a second source said an indicator showed a problem on the captain’s display but not the first officer’s.

The captain asked the first officer to check the quick reference handbook, which contains checklists for abnormal events, the first source said.

For the next nine minutes, the jet warned pilots it was in a stall and pushed the nose down in response, the report showed. A stall is when the airflow over a plane’s wings is too weak to generate lift and keep it flying.

The captain fought to climb, but the computer, still incorrectly sensing a stall, continued to push the nose down using the plane’s trim system. Normally, trim adjusts an aircraft’s control surfaces to ensure it flies straight and level.

They didn’t seem to know the trim was moving down,” the third source said. “They thought only about airspeed and altitude. That was the only thing they talked about.”

Reuters

As we noted last week, several pilots had repeatedly warned federal authorities of the Max 8’s shortcomings, with one pilot describing the plane’s flight manual as “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.” 

The fact that this airplane requires such jury-rigging to fly is a red flag. Now we know the systems employed are error-prone — even if the pilots aren’t sure what those systems are, what redundancies are in place and failure modes. I am left to wonder: what else don’t I know?” wrote the captain.

After the Lion Air crash, two U.S. pilots’ unions said the potential risks of the system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, hadn’t been sufficiently spelled out in their manuals or training. None of the documentation for the Max aircraft included an explanation, the union leaders said. –Bloomberg

“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,” said Southwest Airlines Pilots Association president Jon Weaks in November. “It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.

Continue this story at ZeroHedge…

READ MORE INTERNATIONAL NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire International Files

SUPPORT 21WIRE – SUBSCRIBE & BECOME A MEMBER @21WIRE.TV