It’s becoming progressively clearer by the day that the pilots of the Lion AIR 737 MAX 8 ended up fighting for control of the aircraft as the Boeing MCAS anti-stall system cut in.
The latest revelations show that the MCAS system seems to have cut in and decided a stall was imminent, when it apparently was not. The system cut in and refused to disengage. The pilots were unaware of its existence and tried to fight the system, which is designed to lower the aircraft nose.
The more the pilots tried to lift the nose the latest reports are telling us, the more the system cut in trying to force it down.
It seems the cause of the MCAS activation was due to a faulty angle of attack sensor on the aircraft exterior, that left the system believing it was stalling when it wasn’t.
The pilots appeared to lift the nose 26 times according to the latest analysis of black box data. They eventually lost control and the aircraft crashed, killing all aboard.
The initial conclusions are officially due out on Friday, but are largely expected to be indecisive, which is as much political and commercial in countries without a robust legal framework.
Clearly highlights for improvement must be:
- the identification of failed sensors before take off
- reassessment of how new systems are trained/informed to pilots
- longer transition training times
- willingness of airlines to surrender pilots for long enough to be trained fully
- willingness to hear and do something about an issue when a system on a new aircraft type may be at fault. This aircraft was reported as having an unidentified issue the previous day, which was ignored.