Though the full details of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes are maybe months or even years away, investigators are beginning to piece together parallels between the two incidents. A report now says that the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max, which tragically crashed a few months ago, ran into the same issue with the flight-control system a day before the crash. Except in that case, there was fourth pilot who was well aware of the design flaw in the 737 Max and carefully instructed the pilots on how to override the flight control system. This ‘savior’ of a pilot, told the crew to cut power to the mechanism driving the nose downwards, as according to the checklist all pilots of the aircraft are required to memorize. The report, which was not brought to light earlier, certainly seems to indicate that pilot training may have played a part in the tragedy. Do note however that both pilots on Lion Air 610 had well over 5000 hours of flight time and more than 5 years of experience flying for the airline, so the truth may certainly be somewhere more in the middle.
This report seems to lead me to two questions:
- How many flight hours are enough for pilots to fly an aircraft commercially?
- Is providing the software patch enough on the part of Boeing or do they need to take a more active role in pilot training going forward?
While Lion Air and Boeing didn’t release a full statement, there seems to have been some shortcomings on both sides. Boeing might have kept the pilots in the “dark” regarding the design ‘improvements,’ but the training of Lion Air pilots may have also played a part in the disaster as well. There is little doubt that Boeing tried to pull a fast one here with the FAA, airlines, and pilots by not notifying them of instrumental/software changes between the previous generations of this aircraft and the 737 Max. I also suggested that the relations between Boeing and the Trump administration and Congress were suggestive of certain items perhaps being overlooked during the certification of the aircraft. The DOT is even looking into the FAA certification process right now. The truth as I said before is probably somewhere in the middle and we can only hope now that we learn from our mistakes moving forward.