Cory W. Watts via Flickr/Victor Tangermann
Lion Air Tragedy

Confused Pilots Were Reading Boeing 737 Handbook as Plane Crashed

"It is like a test where there are 100 questions and when the time is up you have only answered 75."

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Cory W. Watts via Flickr/Victor Tangermann

Crash Details

Reuters broke a horrifying story today, revealing that the pilots on board the doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX airplane “scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards.”

It’s an apparently damning revelation about the highly sophisticated features of Boeing’s popular line of commercial jets — and perhaps a warning overly-complex automated flying systems.

Black Box

Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in October, killing all 189 people on board. A second Boeing MAX plane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on March 10, killing 157.

Investigators have been piecing together details of the October wreck, but the new revelation marks the first time information about the crash has been revealed to the public, according to Reuters.

Like Failing a Test

After finding a problem on the captain’s display, the captain asked the first officer to “check the quick reference handbook, which contains checklists for abnormal events,” according to Reuters’ sources. The jet’s nose kept pushing down as a result of it sensing a stall.

Even with the pilots giving altitude correction commands, the nose of the jet kept dipping.

“It is like a test where there are 100 questions and when the time is up you have only answered 75,” an anonymous source told Reuters. “So you panic. It is a time-out condition.”

Nine minutes later, the jet crashed into the water.

Software Enhancements

A day after this month’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, Boeing promised a software “enhancement” for its all of its Boeing 737 Max jets. Included in the update: “angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading.”

Despite the new information, the exact cause of the Lion air crash — and the Ethiopian Airlines crash — still haven’t been confirmed.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Cockpit voice recorder of doomed Lion Air jet depicts pilots’ frantic search for fix – sources [Reuters]

More on Boeing’s MAX plane: Boeing promises software update for plane that crashed

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