Someone Else Is at Fault in Boeing 737 Crashes

Inexperienced pilots are also to blame, says the New York Times
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2019 12:40 PM CDT
737 Max Crashes Aren't All Boeing's Fault
A grounded Boeing 737 MAX airplane sits with dozens of others crowding a parking area adjacent to Boeing Field Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Seattle. Aviation authorities around the world grounded the plane in March after two fatal crashes.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(Newser) – Boeing isn't the only one to blame. So concludes an impressively detailed New York Times article about two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes since last year—which, it turns out, were caused at least partly by pilot error. "Look, we know as a fact that half of airline pilots graduated in the bottom of their class," says a former Airbus pilot. Standards are apparently lower in Indonesia, the home country of Lion Air, whose plane went down on October 29 and killed all 189 passengers on board. Deregulated and plagued by accidents, the country's corrupt airline industry has been hiring inexperienced and underpaid pilots for years. When confronted by Boeing technology that pushed down the plane's nose—in theory to help it handle better—the flight crew was baffled.

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True, Boeing hadn't told pilots about the flawed MCAS system or described it in flight manuals. But the company figured pilots would react wisely when a plane's nose-up-or-down balance, or "trim," got out of whack, by turning off electrics and reverting to manual trim. But the Lion Air crew failed to do so, and pilots on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302—which went down on March 10, killing 157—lost control amid other blunders. Both planes also suffered from all-too-common mechanical errors. But the lack of rigorous pilot training plays a key role. "In an emergency, it becomes a problem," an industry expert told Business Insider in March. "If you have a complicated airplane and you basically put a student pilot in there, that's not a good thing." Read the full article here. (Or look at the FAA's role in approving the 737 Max.)

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