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Engineer: Ethiopian Airlines Went Into Records After Crash

Ethiopian Airlines' former chief engineer says in a whistleblower complaint filed with regulators that the carrier went into the maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year, a breach he contends was part of a pattern of corruption that included fabricating documents, signing off on shoddy repairs and even beating those who got out of line. ( More...

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Seems simple, Do not allow landings of those airlines anywhere in countries that they don't comply with. When their passengers cannot reach their destinations they will stop flying that airline, thus closing down the business.
indy2001 21
Finally, little by little and drip by drip, we're getting the other side of the story. And it's the same sad story for both Ethiopian and Lion Airlines ... poorly-trained and overworked pilots and maintenance staff, lack of oversight, management that ignores pleas for improvements, and corruption everywhere. As I've said before, Boeing hasn't covered itself in glory but there's a reason why these two accidents happened to aircraft that belonged to airlines that have grown too fast and put too much emphasis on making maximum profit.

"It's not a coincidence, he said, that Ethiopian saw one of its Max planes go down when many other airlines that fly the plane suffered no such tragedy." There are many reasons for this and better training and oversight are not the only ones. In response to some airlines' demands for cheaper aircraft, Boeing "unbundled" some non-critical features so that airlines could pick and choose which ones they want to buy. Of importance here are two optional safety upgrades -- AOA (angle of attack) indicators on both pilots' displays and a warning light that indicates when the two AOA sensors disagree. U.S. airlines and most well-known western carriers purchased the two upgrades. Neither Ethiopian nor Lion Airlines opted to, presumably because they cost extra. Lack of familiarity with the workings of MCAS wasn't the main reason those two planes crashed.
Jakub Bialek -1
Little by little, they try to fabricate "proofs" of Boeing innocence...It is sooo obvious!
s2v8377 36
Pilot error caused by lack of training and compounded by poor maintenance is what caused the prefect storms to produce the MCAS crashes.

Boeing could have done a much better job on the 737 MAX and there is no excuse for that, but Boeing did not cause either crash.
John Manley 6
^ 1000% this.
How about "facilitated" or "encouraged" rather than "caused"?
DGR Rathborne 3
I just read that the CEO , of Boeing , Mr. Dennis Mullenburger , ( forgive me if i miss spelled his name ) has been removed from his position , by the Board of Directors . It is my understanding that he has been offered a lessor position , that is speciffic to fixing all the problems with the Max and NG . I do not know if he will or has accepted this arrangement . As sad as this is , and a big shock to me , i guess a shake-up in the highest levels was due . If any-one has any further info , i would like to know ...........DGR
I'm amazed that it took this long. Seriously
Rico van Dijk 7
Having worked as a fleet technical manager in a previous job, we also had the protocol (luckily never had to use it) to collect all documentation of an aeroplane after a crash, of course with the purpose to save them from being altered. They go straight into a safe. However if the chief engineer reports it as a whistle blower I’m suspicious that their protocols may nit have been not followed as advertised.
Pat Clar 3
Sully did fly the B-737. I know that because I flew with him.
mickey hines 1
What has that got to do with anything?
djames225 2
Read some comments below that state they "think" Sully is not B737 qualified.
John Manley 5
Little Long but it has to be said.... here are my thoughts:

Ive been telling people this for a long time now.... this is NOT just Boeing's fault. Theres a big reason why this never happened to a North American or European airline.... this all stems from airline safety/maintenance/training culture ... clearly all 3 do not exist at Ethiopian if what half of what this whistle blower's allegations are true... People have called me a racist for months for even suggesting that these incidents could be ANYTHING but the fault of the manufacturer and the regulator (FAA) who signed the airplane off.... well I guess the shoe is on the other foot now... I don't know if I should be relieved that the truth is finally coming out, angry that this evil and corrupt airline has been getting away with what it has for so long, or what..... but I will tell you one thing... I am more than confident now that if these abhorrent allegations are indeed factual, then 100% Ethiopian Airlines NEEDS to be barred from entering the United States and other first world countries must follow suit! As one who works in airline operations I must emphatically say that safety must NEVER be put second to airline profit and growth! I surely hope Boeing and the FAA takes this whistle blower's story and others as well thoroughly into consideration when it comes time for the final report and decision on the MAX to be made! God Bless this Whistle Blower from coming forward and speaking the truth!
Viv Pike 16
"I recently experienced all these warnings in a 737 MAX flight simulator during recreations of the accident flights. Even knowing what was going to happen, I could see how crews could have run out of time before they could have solved the problems. Prior to these accidents, I think it is unlikely that any US airline pilots were confronted with this scenario in simulator training." Those are the quoted words of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.
John Manley 11
Clearly you have never heard of runaway trim...its the exact same procedure and it is a mandatory memory item and heavily covered in AQP training as well as initial training... US crews are trained on these type of situations and know exactly how to recover by following the emergency checklist from the QRH. As for Sully, I dont give a damn what he says or thinks in regards to a 737.... I'm not sure if he was ever typed in a 737 but I know for a fact that the last airplane he flew before retirement was a bus.... its a COMPLETELY different world flying a bus over a 737... so I will kindly and respectfully say he should not comment on a plane he is not typed in. Furthermore, the preliminary report shows that while Lion Air never even attempted to follow runaway trim procedures and Ethiopian did, the Ethiopian crew still deviated from the QRH which ultimately caused their demise. While yes there are flaws in the MCAS philosophy, if you have a well trained and aware crew always on alert, then the moment that trim wheel starts to spin out of control without input, they should immediately know what actions to take. Sorry but runaway trim is not rocket science... I understand the pressure of if you screw up, you and everyone are dead, but if you freeze up in a situation like that, you never should have been signed off to fly the line, period.

"A good pilot knows how to fly his/her airplane even when it is broken." An American 737 captain told me this one day when we were discussing MCAS and runaway trim. Very true his statement is.
Rico van Dijk 13
I was trained as well, in the sim with an experienced captain we were surprised with this scenario and did not make it in the first attempt, then we received training (based on procedures that were written in the FCOM for the -200) and in the second attempt we were able to control the aeroplane. The key is to very quickly recognise the trim runaway situation, there is not enough time to say outloud the memory items, you simply cut the cutout switches as quick as you can, then you fly the aircraft up to about 25 degrees nose up. This is a two man efford to pull the yoke all the way aft for almost 20 seconds. On the count of three unload the yoke, the pilot monitoring will start trimming aft with the wheel. When the nose approaches 5 degrees pitch you have to recover with the yoke full aft and pitch up to 25 degrees. Repeat this about 10-15 times to get the trim back in range. Yes the aeroplane is controllible, but It is my opinion, that when you need to pull these aerobatics off just to move the trim wheel, there is a serious problem with the basic design of this aircraft. Also now try the same combined with unreliable primary flight instruments. At any moment during this procedure, if the nose goes under 10 degrees there is no way out. I feel sorry for these guys and I don’t think it’s fair to put the blame of the crash on the flight crew. My 2 cts.
erik godo 4
I was told that he fact the throttles were up was a major issue in having to do these gyrations. If you are flying slower you can just trim using the wheel or trim switches. Comments?
clarify 1
Wow, thank you for that detailed description!
Viv Pike 9
"Clearly you have never heard of runaway trim..."

That is a very bold statement, considering you do not know me at all. I made absolutely no comment whatsoever that could or would indicate that I know everything or anything about aviation, at all. Unless you were suggesting that Sully "had never heard of runaway trim".
I simply posted a quote from a senior US aviator.

Get of your high horse. Many a US Max pilot have also complained about this issue.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

siriusloon -7
Go ahead and say it. We all know you believe it. You think you're the "god of aviation", right? Most of the rest of us think you're a bloviating gasbag.
Rico van Dijk 7
I am starting to think we may have overdone it with those chemtrails in your area. Apoligies!
John Manley -5

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

siriusloon -3
So an anonymous pilot who's a figment of your imagination knows more than Sully? Guess what, most people on this forum don't give a damn what YOU say or think.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

djames225 -5
So you think the 737 is the only aircraft that has ever experienced runaway trim? I'm sorry that you disrespect Cpt. Sullenberger's account of what he, holding a CPL and being type certified for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft along with T-37, T-38, F-4, single and multi engined prop aircraft and gliders, discovered while using a MAX simulator. You DO NOT have to be type certified, to fly in a simulator WITH a type certified pilot.
IF you did read the complete prelim report about the Ethiopian crash, you will see when they followed through the complete checklist, and even went as far as cutting stab trim switches, there were still issues. Perhaps you could explain, since you seem to have flown a MAX simulator, why the Ethiopian crew's flight instrument readouts were skewed side to side, and why, even when auto pilot was engaged, there was a problem as reported by both CVR and FDR?
You forgot to mention the stab trim cutout didn't happen until 2.5 minutes into the flight (then it unhappened a couple seconds later).

there were still the throttles still at 94%, you mean?
djames225 3
First off, you don't just take-off and then hit stab-trim cutout. Second, if you paid attention to the reading and started wondering, you would see odd things happening. "Master Caution Anti-Ice" , Autothrottle not mentioned you would also see they applied autopilot @05:38:22 and set speed to 238 kts. If that's the case, why is it reported that engines were left in N1 position the whole flight? Autopilot would have, or should have throttled back. Autothrottle would have, or should have throttled back prior to that.
@05:40:35 I see First officer call stab-trim cutout 2x, captain agrees and it is confirmed stab-trim cutout...where does it state they turned it back on? What I also see, and from my understanding of what Boeing said, this was not, or is not, suppose to happen when stab-trim cutout switches activated, MCAS was again trying to control the stabilizer.@05:40:41

Should I continue going through the pre-lim report with an open mind? Some books are not made to be entertaining!
I thought you couldn't (or shouldn't) engage the autopilot while alarms are going off and expect it to stay on, at least not on the side with the alarms anyway. If the airplane is way out of trim the autopilot is supposed to disengage, correct? Why would you want the autopilot on during an emergency?

It doesn't state they switched the stab trim cutout back, but MCAS pushing the nose down for 9 seconds says they did. They couldn't trim manually, so they turned electric trim back on. The problem is they weren't monitoring airspeed.
djames225 0
I did not say should or could, I said did..and did and setting a 238kt speed should have reduced throttles. So why does FDR say it did not? And when you takeoff, autothrottle is set that once at certain altitude, throttles retard..why didn't they?
MCAS pushing the nose down for 9 seconds occurred shortly after autopilot disengaged. Stab trim cutout was not off. MCAS is not suppose to be continuous. It is suppose to do it in increments. There is a lot in that report that I am seeing something more than MCAS. "Master Caution Anti-Ice"?? Anti-ice would have been off. MCAS attempting to correct stab trim, when Boeing states it's disabled with stab-trim cutout. And how can you monitor an airspeed when neither side corresponded.
I'm not defending the actions of the pilots, but I am slso not placing full blame on their shoulders. Something was going on with that jet before it even left the runway.
John Lussier 0
MC Anti-Ice was actually an excellent indication they had damaged AOA vane. Following protocol, an experienced PM would have referenced Anti-ice Sub-panel on Overhead and announced "Left Alpha Vane". Experienced PF/PM would not have left takeoff thrust set as they struggled to control pitch. That is basic airmanship and should be instinctive regardless of task loading. Experience, training, procedures, compliance all major factors overlooked by MSM and av-expert wannabe's. Just because this crew was overwhelmed does not exonerate them or ETH.
djames225 0
Perhaps you too should read the report before blasting "05:42:51, first officer mentions Master Caution Anti-Ice. Master Caution is noted in DFDR. 05:42:55 both pilots call-out Left Alpha Vane". And when take-off throttle is set with auto throttle engaged, THEN auto pilot is turned on and slower speed is set, how do you figure the they "left" the throttles set at takeoff thrust?
No one is exonerating them, but I have had questions why, and how come, since the report first came out. Like why is it a "whistleblower" is just getting announced now, some 7 mths after the crash? Should said "angry at the airline whistleblower" not have been forthwith and brought this up in March??
Viv Pike 1
rapidwolve - you are missing a few "fundamentals" here ....

1) It could not possibly be Boeing's fault. It is an American Company, therefore all is perfect and well. They simply cannot mess up at all. Ever.
2) Both crashes are attributed to so-called "Third-World" countries. Everybody knows that nothing happens in third world countries, and it is absolutely impossible that they would know how to fly a Boeing. An Airbus, maybe. But a Boeing? No - that is way too complex for "Third-World" pilots.
3) ALL third-world Airlines have sub-standard maintenance, training, etc. No exceptions. The fact that Ethiopian was one of the first to get a Max Sim is irrelevant - they still don't know how to use it. The fact that the Max Sim also didn't know about MCAS at that time, is irrelevant.
4) It is a fact that no American pilot, or American Airliner with a Max, did not crash, is the defining factor. This is true. It never happened. It is absolutely irrelevant that the airplane fault never manifested itself on an American Aircraft and/or Piloted aircraft. An American pilot would have known about it, even though they were completely unaware of it when it might have happened.
5) Cpt. Sullenberger is a washed out, retired, Airbus driver. He would know nothing about runaway trim, or how to maybe fly a B737. Get over it. His words are only worth making a movie. Remember - no American Pilot has ever crashed an American B38M or B39M. So therefore, it could not happen. The fact that no AOA sensor failed on an American aircraft is also irrelevant.
6) In the history of aviation, no experienced American Pilot has ever crashed an American airliner due to pilot error. This simply cannot happen, and never has. In every single documented American aviation disaster, there were "extenuating circumstances". Never pilot error. And always Airbus. No American Boeing has ever crashed.
7) Finally - when all is said and done, and the final reports are out - very few trolls will admit to the fact that it was a defective aircraft, and little - if any - blame is apportioned to the unfortunate pilots, crew, and - sadly - passengers and families.

djames225 2
Oh I know, Viv, but was trying to be blunt with that John person...funny thing is, my bluntness and overview, I get down voted. Sorry "Sully"
You forgot to add, that while many have complained about the issues, a lawsuit has been brought up, against Boeing, by those same US pilots. And it isn't just for lost time.
Ugh, If you're gonna write a book at least make it entertaining.
siriusloon -1
You've made the critical mistake of thinking that a rational comment quoting a qualified expert will have the slightest effect on Manley. He has his pet theory of incompetent brown people and he'll cling to it for the rest of his miserable life.
John Manley 0
My what a strange attachment you have to race and skin color... it is quite alarming... only a racist would mention and bring skin color/race into question... and that person surely is not me... hmmmm
John Manley -5
Explain to me how Sully is an expert on the 737... please, go ahead im listening... hold on i need to go grab my popcorn first.
djames225 6
WTH do you need to be an "expert" of a certain aircraft if you know how to properly fly a damn aircraft??
siriusloon -5
How do you know it's the truth? The answer is you don't, you just want it to be the truth. There is a very profound difference between the two. Lucky for you and your racist tirade that it was brown people flying those two jets. You'd have a real dilemma coming up with a reason to let Boeing off the hook if they were white airlines.

And by the way, no it didn't "have to be said". We'd all be better off if you hadn't.
John Manley 5
1: Ethiopian Airlines has a large staff of European pilots.

2: What the hell is a “white airline”?

3: you seem triggered

I never brought race into this.... but you just did for no reason... and yet you call me the racist. Quite ironic if you ask me.
bill bill 1
Im not surprised....
airuphere 1
Oof.. while they have confirmed that the planes maintenxe recorded were accessed after the crash.. they say nothing was changed. While they should of been sealed immediately and this may be illegal - this rises to the burden of prof that Boeing May not be wholly held responsible in a law suite. As these things come out the burden willl get tougher - law suit is not a surewin as said before.
siriusloon 5
What may be illegal in the U.S. isn't necessarily illegal in another country. It's also entirely possible that very distraught airline personnel wanted to find out if something they did caused the crash or missed a possible cause, not to cover anything up but to see if they could spot a problem that had been missed. That's a very human response, even if it's not the best way to proceed with a crash investigation.

What's the history of the whistleblower relative to the airline? Did he have a history of problems, either of his own making or as the victim? Did he quit as a matter of conscience or was he run out of town because he was bad at his job? Some whistleblowers do the right thing because it's the right thing and some do it out of revenge. Before we put total faith is this report and cling to it as an excuse to exonerate Boeing -- as all the Boeing apologists do here regularly -- let's wait and find out if this guy has zero credibility, 100% credibility, or somewhere in between.
John Manley 5
Its not just illegal to open a file on aircraft records after an accident, its downright shady.

This whistle blower gave the FAA hard evidence of his findings... did you not read the article? It is a felony to falsify a whistle blower report to the federal government... I highly doubt this guy would leave his cushion job making a solid salary to knowingly lie to the FAA knowing the consequences of doing such a thing... if he is then this dude is a major idiot... highly doubt thats the case if he was the chief engineer at Ethiopian.... just saying.
Viv Pike 0
^ That
DGR Rathborne 1
I have never heard such a nightmarish situation existing at any repreble airline . I am at 1st taken aback by this story , and will have to think on it for awhile . But , it's fair to say i am horrified by it all ..........DGR
And the airline was very quick on the back foot after the accident sprouting that their airline was top notch!
A lesson in “nothing is ever as it seems”.
Phil Howry 1
Does it seem odd how "whistleblower" incidents are treated differently? At least this former airline chief engineer has the integrity to step up and, personally, own his allegations.
themold 1
His story describes CRIMINAL behavior of the airline executives, and they must be held accountable.
DGR Rathborne 3
Hi Themold...A Google search shows that Ethiopian operates 116 in its' fleet . They consist of an A-350 ,787,777,767and 737 all of various variations . Clearly , they have a lot of experience with Boeing aircraft . I also agree with you that the culture for safety , maintenance and training , is Criminal , and as they say , and rightly so , it starts at the Executive level . I submit that if this happened in another Western country , the Regulators would order the Airline grounded . If the other Regulators and Gov't are privy to this report , you might see Ethiopian Flts , band from others Air Space . What do you think about this Themold ? Let me know please ...........DGR
M20ExecDriver 0
Easy to forget what is dysfunction in one part of the world is normal in another.

This is normal in Black Africa

Corruption in all parts of the government and associated entities.
Theft of government funds
Tribal discrimination/supression
When necessary, genocide
Government nepotism
Maintaining impoverishment of the masses
Surviving on IMF loans, and other Western countries' aid.
You can probably add pencil whipping maintenance on air carrier aircraft.

If anyone thinks Ethiopia is any different, they're delusional.
Trump nailed it. Africa is a **** hole.

Having said all that, you can go to Las Vegas to gamble or buy a ticket on a third world air carrier.
DGR Rathborne 2
Not worthy of a reply
My bad. I thought you were describing the state of things in the USA.
DGR Rathborne 3
Mr. Puddle ......Well put . I have never been receptive to personal abuse , of people or organizations . But when you turn the spot light on us , you show that we are not so perfect ourselves . Thank-you for your wise observation ..............DGR .
It's no secret that a lot of countries outside of the U.S. operate outside of established regulations, and have their own internal protocols. Ever notice how ferries that sink with hundreds aboard are usually severely overloaded? Remember back in the 90s when there used to be a lot of crashes because people were actually COOKING on airplanes? If this whistleblower had been a singular voice, he may have caused some doubts, but there were others reporting the same situations. Someone better come up with an International set of regulations applying to ALL countries with airlines.
Rich James 2
I echo the sentiments but also agree enforcement is virtually impossible. I would take issue that the problem does not affect the developed world. Whilst the US, UK and EU amongst many others do a muc better job of enforcing standards we have had quite recent events where aircraft were not inspected in a timely fashion as with DC9/MD11 and a well know US carrier and fines levied on other carriers for corners being cut on maintenance. So there is no room for complacency anywhere,
DGR Rathborne 2
Hi Rich , You are absolutely correct . The western group are not with-out fault . I am a TV watcher of the show MAYDAY . This one hour show delves into the significant air crashes of the USA and Europe . It is both fascinating and very educational and i am always amazed that the simplest mistakes cause horrible tragedy .But we continue to strive for perfection . It is important to most Carriers . At Ethiopian , it appears that playing by the rules , was just lip service . Thats my 2 cents . What do you think ? .......DGR
I don't think enforcement is totally impossible. Nations have the right to safe if your planes aren't safe, stay out of our skies. Restricted airspace means loss of revenue... Money talks.
DGR Rathborne 1
Hi Leander . Thats a really tough thing to do . I'm not saying impossible , but damn close . I think that discussion should begin with IATA and ICAO . I new a person in IATA a long time ago , and they said it was devilishly difficult to set standards . Often it did work , but with feet of clay , it took a lot of time . I know at 1st glance , it is common sense to have a unified standard . But a signatories signature doesn't make it work . In todays world , we are all tempted to cheat and lie as long as we can get away with it . It is only select , long established Airlines that have Integrity built into the Whole Airline , that will comply . And if that doesn't work , there are bodies like the NTSB , FAA and for me Canada's Department of Transport , and TSB . to step in .......Let me know what you think .....OK ? ........DGR
I see where Ethiopian flies into the US. Back in the earlier days, if an airline had a spotty safety record [verified], they were flatly banned from our airspace. I think the FAA has the authority to demand safety records of Ethiopian for that very reason. You want to fly your birds in our skies, we will determine if they are being kept in airworthy and safe condition.
Hi DGR. I can't speak of my knowledge of foreign carriers, because I know each country has their own set of standards. That's where the problem lies IMHO. Until aviation laws are made standard NO MATTER the country, we will have these issues. I am seeing and hearing that Boeing has a problem with the MCAS, but US pilots seem to be the only ones with expertise enough to still fly the plane. These other countries apparently tell their pilots to trust their instruments and don't teach them how to manually override obvious malfunctions and fly the plane by hand. I haven't flown a plane since I learned to fly a Cessna 172 in the 60's [colorblindness], but if I get an alarm, the first thing I'm gonna do is look out the window and see the horizon, or at night try to determine the angle of attack. But, hindsight is never foresight.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

djames225 5
Ron...the whole point is it's not a "new" air is still a stretched 727 air frame. If it was a "new" air frame, it would have to have gone through a gauntlet of tests and examination to be certified. But it is a "revamped" air frame, and an old 1 at that.
Rico van Dijk 4
Now I also disagree with this, itis mostly a good aeroplane that can be fixed. 1) improved mcas software 2) an alternate means of trim that can be used throughout the entire flight envelope. I’d happily fly the aircraft then.
djames225 1
Your second recommendation is spot on, Rico. "an alternate means of trim that can be used throughout the entire flight envelope" It's easy to forget that while the MAX, and NG for that matter, were suppose to highly revamped 737 aircraft, they still left old 1950's tech on board. Remember that the 737 IS the 727 fuselage, and those trim wheels still exist from the 707 era.
Rico van Dijk 3
“and those trim wheels still exist from the 707 era.”,... but smaller ;)
Stefan Sobol 1
Trim wheels on a 707 and a 737NG are exactly the same size.
GraemeSmith 1
"return to the 737 neo"

Sure - just one word there. "Picklefork"
John Lussier 0
Picklefork cracks are a heavy maintenance inspection issue. So far,cracks have been found on high cycle airframes operated in 3rd world nations.As of yet not a single crew has snapped a wing off with flight control inputs the way an A300 can disconnect it's vertical fin and there are plenty of them still in service.
The 800. 900 and MAX 10 are not going anywhere but to the active and back in service, I've flown the 900 MAX several times and the bottom line is the Airlines LOVE THEM, sorry wrong they'll fly for decades.
Scott Campbell -4
Star Alliance should knock them out. What a joke !


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