The Flight Manual for the Boeing 737 Max 8 is inadequate and almost criminally insufficient. These are the words of an American Pilot.
Boeing stocks are already down more than 10%, and the criminal and civil liability Boeing would have to face in case of another accident could be fatal for this giant.
Five US-based pilots utilized an anonymously reporting tool on issues relevant to the Boeing 737 Max 8. The tool is meant to help improve reporting of safety problems and so do not include any information about which airline was involved.
Boeing is big business, maybe so big that safety is becoming secondary. The United States is isolated in the world still allowing the operation of the Boeing MAX 800 aircraft after two deadly accidents recently. In addition, American Pilots complained at least 5 times in recent months about problems controlling their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets during critical moments of flight, federal records show.
US president Donald Trump tweeted: Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.” U.S. defense secretary Patrick M. Shanahan previously served as Boeing senior vice president.
Some of the anonymously reported incidents appear to involve the same anti-stall system that has come up as a potential cause of October’s Indonesia crash, according to a review of a Federal Aviation Administration incident database that lets pilots self-report trouble. Investigators have not said whether the same technology had emerged as a possible cause of Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia, although both involved airliners that mysteriously plunged to the ground minutes after takeoff.
For one U.S. incident in November 2018, a commercial airline pilot reported that during takeoff, the autopilot was engaged and “within two to three seconds the aircraft pitched nose down,” in a manner steep enough to trigger the plane’s warning system, which sounded “Don’t sink, don’t sink!”
After the autopilot was disengaged, the plane climbed as normal, according to the report.
While the FAA had issued an emergency directive on Nov. 7, 2018, to help pilots understand how to handle problems with the anti-stall technology, “it does nothing to address the systems issues,” the pilot wrote. The pilot further noted that the flight manuals had yet to be updated with that information at that time.
“I think it is unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models,” the pilot wrote. “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.”
The pilot added: “I am left to wonder: what else don’t I know? The Flight Manual is inadequate and almost criminally insufficient. All airlines that operate the MAX must insist that Boeing incorporate ALL systems in their manuals.”
In a separate report from October, a pilot complained that a MAX 8’s autothrottles — which command the plane to accelerate to a set speed within certain parameters — were not working properly even though the crew had engaged them. The pilot noticed quickly and adjusted the thrust manually to continue to climb.