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Old 27th Apr 2019, 13:05
  #4436 (permalink)  
737 Driver
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: USA
Posts: 217
Originally Posted by Bend alot View Post
Can you detail how the/you cockpit would have responded after take off of the ET flight with you as Captain and with the 2-300 hr FO - who's job was who's when and why ?

Not a trap question just very interested.

Starting from the first warning you get and when you would accept it as a warning or a failure.
I suppose it wouldn't be fair to answer that I would never work at an airline where a 2-300 hour First Officer was a possibility. Far too many ways for that situation to go south.

In the case of Ethiopian, however, the answer is quite straightforward. After Lion Air, the existence and potential failure modes of MCAS were made public. This was a very hot topic around my airline as we operated the MAX. We have our own internal message board (not unlike PPRuNe), and different thoughts were kicked around. While there were some pilots who said they would refuse to fly the MAX until a more permanent fix was in place, the general consensus was that there were some basic techniques that could be used to mitigate the threat.

Since MCAS was inhibited by either the A/P or the flaps extended, the primary defense was to make sure you had one or the other. That is, on takeoff one would engage the A/P first and then retract the flaps. On landing, keep the A/P on until some amount of flaps were extended. If during takeoff, but before A/P engagement, you were to experience anything that looked like a failed AOA or unreliable airspeed, then don't retract the flaps. By applying these techniques, MCAS would never have an opportunity to activate. Whether these kind of discussions occurred at Ethiopian is currently unknown, but the information was available to process.

A better question would have been, "How would you have handled this malfunction as a Lion Air pilot who had no knowledge of MCAS?"

I think by now you may have gathered that I'm a hands-on type of pilot, so the answer is pretty much the same one I've been giving all along. Fly the aircraft.

By the numbers then: Stick shaker. WTF?! Check my power (increase as necessary), check my attitude, check my configuration. Is it flying or is it wallowing? If it is wallowing, keep the nose down and accelerate. If its flying, probably a false indication, continue the climb, call for the gear. Cross check instruments. I've got my hands full, so ask my FO to read off what he sees on all three airspeeds. At 400 feet check my roll mode, have FO ask for straight ahead if appropriate and declare emergency. If by now I've determined we have unreliable airspeed, memory items except I'm going to keep takeoff power and 15 degrees pitch until 1000' where I set 10 degrees and 80% N1.

Now I do absolutely nothing except climb to a safe altitude with flaps hanging. Once at a safe altitude, we proceed slowly and methodically through the NNC for Airspeed Unreliable. Quite frankly, I don't know if I would ever retract my flaps in this scenario (and hence no MCAS issue) because I'm going to return to the departure airport for landing.

If I ever did retract the flaps, it would only be after I had a stabilized aircraft. If MCAS then kicked in, I seriously doubt I would let the trim run continuously for 9 seconds before I did something about it. When you do a fair amount of hand-flying, trimming is like breathing. You hardly think about it. Controls get heavy, trim. Apply thrust, trim. Reduce thrust, trim. Enter a turn, trim. Rollout of turn, trim. If MCAS activated, it would probably take a few cycles of back and forth before I realized that something was amiss, but I have never been reluctant to trim as necessary. Eventually I would have made my way to the runaway trim NNC, but would have done so from an in-trim state.

This is not to say that everything would have been executed flawlessly (i.e. good chance I would forget to call for gear initially), but then that's why you want an experienced First Officer to back you up. Personally, I feel that the Ethiopian Airline policy of placing low-time pilots in the right seat of a passenger airline borders on the criminally negligent.

So, to flog the topic one more time..... When presented with an undesired and/or unexpected aircraft state, it is absolutely crucial for the pilot flying to be prepared to revert to basic airmanship skills. Set the pitch. Set the power. Trim the aircraft. Monitor the performance. Adjust as necessary. Get to a safe altitude. Stabilize the aircraft. And then work the problem.

None of this requires "sky god" or "test pilot" level of skill. It simply requires making the conscience decision that you are going to fly the aircraft with the tools that are readily available.
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