In the months before an Ethiopian Airlines crash killed 157 people on Sunday, the second recent deadly crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner, American pilots complained to authorities about perceived safety problems with the same aircraft.
Two pilots reported their aircraft unexpectedly pitched nose down after engaging autopilot following departure. Another pilot reported a “temporary level off” triggered by the aircraft automation. The captain of a November 2018 flight called part of the aircraft’s flight manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.”
“The fact that this airplane requires such jury rigging to fly is a red flag,” that captain – who is not identified by name – wrote in a report to the federal Aviation Safety Reporting System. The captain added that part of the plane’s flight system is “not described in our Flight Manual.”
Records show that federal aviation authorities received at least 11 reports concerning the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from professional aviators logged between April 2018 and December 2018.
Sunday's crash in Ethiopia followed an Oct. 29, 2018, crash of Lion Air Flight 610, in which 189 passengers and crew died when it plunged into the Java Sea outside Indonesia. Both flights crashed after experiencing drastic speed fluctuations during ascent, with their pilots trying to return to ground after takeoff.
There is no comment.