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The Four-Second Catastrophe: How Boeing Doomed the 737 MAX


The Four-Second Catastrophe: How Boeing Doomed the 737 MAX

The digital displays for altitude, airspeed and other basic information showed dramatically different readings from those in front of his co-pilot. The controls in Capt. Getachew’s hands started shaking to warn him the plane was climbing too steeply and was in imminent danger of falling from the sky.

Soon, a cascade of warning tones and colored lights and mechanical voices filled the cockpit. The pilots spoke in clipped bursts.

“Command!” Capt. Getachew called out twice, trying to activate the autopilot. Twice he got a warning horn.

Another powerful automated flight-control system called MCAS abruptly pushed down the jet’s nose. A computerized voice blared: “Don’t sink! Don’t sink!”

The pilots wrestled with the controls, desperate to raise the nose of their Boeing 737 MAX. Three times Capt. Getachew instructed co-pilot

Ahmed Nur Mohammed,

“Pull up!”

At the same time, a loud clacking warned the preoccupied pilots that the plane was flying too fast.

Four minutes into the flight, the pilots finally touched on the source of their problems, simultaneously calling out “Left alpha vane!”

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A jumble of loud and contradictory warnings confronted the captain and his co-pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly after takeoff on March 10.

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