Ethiopian Airlines And Lion Air 737 MAX Crashes Were Very Similar

The preliminary data obtained from the flight data recorder (FDR) of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft shows “clear similarities” to the crash of the Lion Air 737 MAX last October. This is according to Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s transport minister. During a press conference in Addis Ababa, Moges stated that investigators will issue a preliminary report within 30 days. The report will give further insights into what happened to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Boeing 737 MAX 8
All Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are currently grounded due to safety concerns. Photo: Wikimedia.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya crashed only six minutes after takeoff. All 149 passengers and eight crew members onboard the aircraft were killed.

BBC reported that the visibility was good. Nevertheless, according to data provided by Flightradar24, the aircraft’s “vertical speed was unstable after take-off.”

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737
Ethiopian Airlines operates the youngest fleet in Africa. Photo: Wikimedia.

The aircraft was basically brand-new. Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of it last November.

Lion Air Flight 610

Last October, Lion Air Flight 610 from Jakarta, Indonesia to Pangkal Pinang City, Indonesia crashed 12 minutes after takeoff. 189 people died in this crash.

This aircraft had reportedly experienced technical difficulties in the days before the accident.

Lion Air Boeing 737
Lion Air is an Indonesian low-cost airline. Photo: Wikimedia.

During the 12 minute flight, pilots had issues with the anti-stall system. It is likely that a faulty sensor caused the problems. Data obtained from the FDR shows that the nose of the aircraft dipped uncontrollably, and that the pilots tried to point the nose up about 20 times before the aircraft crashed.

Overall

Although only preliminary data is available at this point, according to the Ethiopian transport minister both crashes were very similar. Both aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff; vertical speed was erratic during both flights.

Interestingly, the Seattle Times reported on Sunday that the safety analysis of the 737 MAX aircraft’s flight control system MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) “had several crucial flaws.” Boeing performed much of the safety analysis, while the FAA only reviewed the flawed data and certified the aircraft.

We continue to keep our readers updated as more details emerge.

2 comments
  1. This whole 737MAX stuff is bleeping ridiculous. Pardon my French.

    “Attitude controls airspeed. Power controls altitude.” That is first thing student pilots need to know. The second thing is when an aircraft lacks sufficient airspeed, it stalls aerodynaically (i.e. lift is not = or > than weight). Stalls have nothing to do with engines. Stall recovery requires lowering the nose (losing altitude) to attain greater airspeed so wings produce greater lift. Adding power in a stall gets you nowhere and on takeoff planes are already at full power. At low altitude, such as right after takeoff or on short final approach to landing, stalls are unrecoverable and everyone dies. Pilots don’t like that.

    The sensor may have been faulty or not, but unless the stall warning was blarring, when the takeoff objective is to gain altitude as required by ATC and to avoid in-flight collision with terrain, pilots will naturally fight any nose-down commands from the autopilot. In the case of the 737Max, when it is demanding a nose-down attitude at low altitude, the pilot’s natural tendencay will be to pull the nose up which tells the Boeing software to point the nose down more.

    The Boeing enineers were brilliant but they weren’t pilots.

  2. Although i am not a pilot, the comments of Mr. John are remarkable and highly professional.
    The concerned agencies must bring the facts to surface after through investigations.
    There should be no repeating in future.

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