Cary Aspinwall, Ariana Giorgi, and Dom DiFurio, reporting for The Dallas Morning News:
Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max
8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight
manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient” several
months before Sunday’s Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people,
an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found.
The News found five complaints about the Boeing model in a federal
database where pilots can voluntarily report about aviation
incidents without fear of repercussions. […]
The disclosures found by The News reference problems with an
autopilot system, and they all occurred during the ascent after
takeoff. Many mentioned the plane suddenly nosing down. While
records show these flights occurred in October and November, the
airlines the pilots were flying for is redacted from the database.
This, more than anything else I’ve read, makes me think it is the right decision to ground these planes pending an investigation. Here the key part of one of the pilot’s reports:
This description is not currently in the 737 Flight Manual Part 2,
nor the Boeing FCOM, though it will be added to them soon. This
communication highlights that an entire system is not described in
our Flight Manual. This system is now the subject of an AD.
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 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.
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
(Airworthiness Directives (ADs) are “legally enforceable regulations issued by the FAA in accordance with 14 CFR part 39 to correct an unsafe condition in a product. Part 39 defines a product as an aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance.”)
★ Wednesday, 13 March 2019