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Pilots of doomed Boeing 737 MAX fought the plane’s software and lost

Published Apr 4th, 2019 5:33PM EDT
boeing 737 crash cause
Image: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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New details into the horrific crash of a Boeing 737 MAX commercial airliner reveal just how messed up the plane’s flight control software really was when it brought the plane crashing down in early March. A preliminary look at the crash report for Ethiopia Airlines flight 302, obtained by CNN, suggests that the pilots of the doomed airliner were absolutely powerless to keep the plane in the air, and it was Boeing’s flight software that was to blame.

The investigation reportedly revealed that the pilots fought against the plane’s own systems for almost the entire flight. After taking off, the plane’s software erroneously believed the plane was in danger of stalling, and began to force the nose of the plane down.

According to CNN, the report reveals that the captain of the flight repeatedly yelled “pull up” to his first officer, but the plane refused to obey their wishes. The system repeatedly fought back against the pilots, causing the plane to dive no less than four times.

After requesting a return to their departing airport, the pilots managed to turn the plane around but it dove yet again, and this time the angle was too severe for the pilots to control, ultimately leading to the crash and the deaths of all 157 people on board.

If you’ve been following the trickle of information coming out of the ongoing investigation this is probably no surprise, since we’ve known for weeks now that the plane was responsible for the crash, not the pilots. Nevertheless, it’s still shocking to hear how bad the situation was, and the fact that the pilots repeatedly saved the plane from destruction in the span of just six minutes before it finally came down.

It wasn’t long after this latest crash that Boeing finally got around to updating its flight control software to make it easier for pilots to override the systems that appear to be responsible for not just the Ethiopia Airlines crash but also the crash of another 737 MAX which occurred back in 2018. Had this problem been addressed sooner, the 157 people aboard the Ethiopia Airlines plane would likely still have their lives.