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Old 28th Apr 2019, 17:29
  #4511 (permalink)  
737 Driver
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: USA
Posts: 217
Originally Posted by HundredPercentPlease View Post
However... why (do you think) on this occasion, were the ET crew unable to continue stabilised flight? You have stated that it is unacceptable (which is obvious)... but why couldn't they? Nice simple question!

Also, as an aside:

You have to consider what they knew.
As long as we agree this is speculation, based on the limited evidence presented in the accident report, I'll be happy too.

First, let's look at the First Officer. He had 361 hours total, and 207 hour in the 737 of all types. Most notable, those 207 hours had all occurred in the previous 90 days. He had 56 hours in the MAX. I do not know how much switching around between the MAX and the NG he did, so it is not possible to say from the data provided how much recent currency he had in the MAX. Taken as a whole, you have a pilot who was given about 150 hours of total time before he was put into commercial airliner, and he had been on the job for about three months prior to the accident. This simply boggles my mind that this is even possible. The First Officer could have been the best stick alive, but there simply is no substitute for experience, both in time and years, particular as it relates to aircraft emergencies. As a result, the Captain was handicapped from the start. When things start going south, and the pilot flying has his hands full of airplane, having an experience and trusty partner who can feed you information, prompt you on actions, and help you maintain situational awareness is worth its weight in gold. This wasn't exactly a single-pilot operation, but it was pretty close.

Looking at the Captain's background (and I'll say right here some of this is second hand), it appears he went from the Ethiopian Training Academy into the right seat of the wide-body pretty quickly. His 737 time as an FO is not split out, but doing some triangulating it appears that much of his 8122 hours was gained as a wide-body First Officer. As you probably know, lots of wide-body time does not necessarily translate into lots of flying in critical phases, and even less with the automation turned off. Looking to the Captain's immediate attempts to engage the automation when it was inappropriate to do so combined with some poor aircraft handling skills points to a case of significant automation dependency. Forced to hand-fly an aircraft when he was uncomfortable with doing so and facing a significant distraction in the form of the stick shaker, he appears to have fallen back on default behaviors like trying to fly a "normal" takeoff profile (A/P @ 400', climb to 1000', retract the flaps) when it was not appropriate (particularly retracting the flaps given what was known about MCAS). The aircraft was never really stabilized when MCAS kicked in, and by that time it appears the Captain had achieved cognitive overload making the remainder of his attempts to control the situation ineffectual. I think the FO did the best that he could, but I really don't know how assertive a three-month 360 hour First Officer could be in this situation.

To go deeper into the question of WHY this crew was so unprepared would require additional specifics regarding the training environment, airline policies and procedures (particularly in regards to the use of automation), and crew management issues that I do not currently possess. Maybe some others can chime in here.

Again, this is just speculation. I'm sure the accident investigators will be looking into all of these issues and will hopefully shed some light in subsequent installments on their findings.
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