As we continue to mourn the loss of life related to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, media, political and public interest remain high and, at times, in a near frenzy. I would like to brief you on the most current factual information SWAPA has received.
Both the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of ET302 have been recovered. Both of these recorders should be examined and read within the next week.
Also, today the FAA issued a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC). In it, the FAA said it “has dispatched personnel to support the investigative authorities in determining the circumstances of this event. All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so.”
The FAA further said that teams from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as the accredited representative, and the FAA, as Technical Advisors, are supporting the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau.
The FAA acknowledged “external reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.” It is, however, important to note that there also have been reported eyewitness accounts that suggest this accident is not similar to the Lion Air crash.
Following the Lion Air Flight 610 accident, the FAA listed completed activities in support of continued operational safety of the MAX fleet:
Issued FAA emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51 on November 7, 2018 Validated that airplane maintenance and functional check instructions on Angle of Attack (AOA) vane replacement were adequate
Conducted simulator sessions to verify the Operational Procedures called out in FAA AD 2018- 23-51
Validated AOA vane bench check calibration procedures were adequate
Reviewed Boeing’s production processes related to the AOA vane and Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)
In addition, the FAA listed ongoing activities it is overseeing:
Boeing’s completion of the flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items. The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by Airworthiness Directive no later than April 2019.
Design changes include:
MCAS Activation Enhancements MCAS AOA Signal Enhancements MCAS Maximum Command Limit
Boeing’s plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the MCAS design change include:
Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) and Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) – notes in Speed Trim Fail checklist