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10 Mar 2019 - ET-AVJ 737 MAX-8 loss of control after take-off

On 10 March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX-8, ET-AVJ (62450/7243) FF 30/10/18, departed Bole International Airport (HAAB) for Nairobi at 08:38L. Contact was lost with the flight 6 minutes after take-off. a spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines said. It crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Flightradar shows a climb to 8600ft (NB airport elevation is 7,656ft). The data ends at a speed of 383kts at 08:44L (06:44z). Both the CVR and FDR have been recovered.

In a press conference on 10/3/19 Ethiopian Airlines stated that the crew reported difficulties and requested a return to Addis Ababa. Independent reports say that the crew declared an emergency shortly departure reporting they had unreliable airspeed indications and had control difficulties with the aircraft. The Captain had flown for Ethiopian Airlines for 9 years and had 8000 hrs TT. The F/O had 200 hrs TT.

The crash site appears to be consistent with a steep dive, the aircraft is right inside the ground. The aircraft had undergone last "rigorous first check maintenance" on 4/2/19. The aircraft had last operated to and from Johannesburg arriving back on the morning of the accident date.

The flight was carrying 149 passengers and 8 crew members; there were no survivors. Our deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones.

HAAB 100600Z 07010KT 9999 FEW025 18/09 Q1029

The fact that control was lost so soon after take-off on a 737 MAX points to potential similarities with the Lion Air MAX accident, which was found to be caused by the new MAX MCAS system.

4 Apr 2019 - The Ethiopian Authorities publish their preliminary report

 

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The Preliminary report (available here) shows the following timeline. I have put some extracts here:

  • At 05:38:00 Take off roll commenced
  • At 05:38:44, shortly after liftoff, the left and right recorded AOA values deviated. Left AOA decreased to 11.1° then increased to 35.7° while value of right AOA indicated 14.94°. Then after, the left AOA value reached 74.5° in ¾ seconds while the right AOA reached a maximum value of 15.3°. At this time, the left stick shaker activated and remained active until near the end of the recording. Also, the airspeed, altitude and flight director pitch bar values from the left side noted deviating from the corresponding right side values. The left side values were lower than the right side values until near the end of the recording.
  • At 05:38:46 and about 200 ft radio altitude, the Master Caution parameter changed state. The First Officer called out Master Caution Anti-Ice on CVR. Four seconds later, the recorded Left AOA Heat parameter changed state.
  • At 05:39:22 and about 1,000 feet the left autopilot (AP) was engaged (it disengaged about 33 seconds later), the flaps were retracted and the pitch trim position decreased to 4.6 units.
  • At 05:39:45, Captain requested flaps up and First-Officer acknowledged. One second later, flap handle moved from 5 to 0 degrees and flaps retraction began.
  • At 05:39:55, Autopilot disengaged,
  • At 05:39:57, the Captain advised again the First-Officer to request to maintain runway heading and that they are having flight control problems.
  • At 05:40:00 shortly after the autopilot disengaged, the FDR recorded an automatic aircraft nose down (AND) activated for 9.0 seconds and pitch trim moved from 4.60 to 2.1 units. The climb was arrested and the aircraft descended slightly.
  • At 05:40:03 Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) “DON’T SINK” alerts occurred.
  • At 05:40:12, approximately three seconds after AND stabilizer motion ends, electric trim (from pilot activated switches on the yoke) in the Aircraft nose up (ANU) direction is recorded on the DFDR and the stabilizer moved in the ANU direction to 2.4 units. The Aircraft pitch attitude remained about the same as the back pressure on the column increased.
  • At 05:40:20, approximately five seconds after the end of the ANU stabilizer motion, a second instance of automatic AND stabilizer trim occurred and the stabilizer moved down and reached 0.4 units.
  • At 05:40:27, the Captain advised the First-Officer to trim up with him.
  • At 05:40:28 Manual electric trim in the ANU direction was recorded and the stabilizer reversed moving in the ANU direction and then the trim reached 2.3 units.
  • At 05:40:35, the First-Officer called out “stab trim cut-out” two times. Captain agreed and FirstOfficer confirmed stab trim cut-out.
  • At 05:40:41, approximately five seconds after the end of the ANU stabilizer motion, a third instance of AND automatic trim command occurred without any corresponding motion of the stabilizer, which is consistent with the stabilizer trim cutout switches were in the ‘’cutout’’ position
  • At 05:40:44, the Captain called out three times “Pull-up” and the First-Officer acknowledged.
  • At 05:40:50, the Captain instructed the First Officer to advise ATC that they would like to maintain 14,000 ft and they have flight control problem.
  • From 05:40:42 to 05:43:11 (about two and a half minutes), the stabilizer position gradually moved in the AND direction from 2.3 units to 2.1 units. During this time, aft force was applied to the control columns which remained aft of neutral position. The left indicated airspeed increased from approximately 305 kt to approximately 340 kt (VMO). The right indicated airspeed was approximately 20-25 kt higher than the left. The data indicates that aft force was applied to both columns simultaneously several times throughout the remainder of the recording.
  • At 05:41:20, the right overspeed clacker was recorded on CVR. It remained active until the end of the recording.
  • At 05:41:30, the Captain requested the First-Officer to pitch up with him and the First-Officer acknowledged.
  • At 05:41:32, the left overspeed warning activated and was active intermittently until the end of the recording.
  • At 05:41:46, the Captain asked the First-Officer if the trim is functional. The First-Officer has replied that the trim was not working and asked if he could try it manually. The Captain told him to try.
  • At 05:41:54, the First-Officer replied that it is not working.
  • At 05:42:54, both pilots called out “left alpha vane”.
  • At 05:43:04, the Captain asked the First Officer to pitch up together and said that pitch is not enough.
  • At 05:43:11, about 32 seconds before the end of the recording, at approximately 13,4002 ft, two momentary manual electric trim inputs are recorded in the ANU direction. The stabilizer moved in the ANU direction from 2.1 units to 2.3 units.
  • At 05:43:20, approximately five seconds after the last manual electric trim input, an AND automatic trim command occurred and the stabilizer moved in the AND direction from 2.3 to 1.0 unit in approximately 5 seconds. The aircraft began pitching nose down. Additional simultaneous aft column force was applied, but the nose down pitch continues, eventually reaching 40° nose down. The stabilizer position varied between 1.1 and 0.8 units for the remainder of the recording.
  • The left Indicated Airspeed increased, eventually reaching approximately 458 kts and the right Indicated Airspeed reached 500 kts at the end of the recording. The last recorded pressure altitude was 5,419 ft on the left and 8,399 ft on the right

Flight profile from runway to last captured ADS-B point (Dave Reid)

The Ethiopian Airlines CEO at the crash site (Photo: Ethiopian Airlines)

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