Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ethiopian Airlines pilot was alerted of imminent crash!

BEIRUT: The pilot of the Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut in January last year received several cockpit warnings that disaster was imminent, according to an investigative report probing the disaster, made public over the weekend.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed into the Mediterranean less than four minutes after takeoff, after performing two maneuvers ordered by Beirut’s Air Traffic Control team. Data contained in flight recorders retrieved from the crash site show how the aircraft turned slightly immediately after leaving runway 21, before being instructed to bank reasonably hard to its left. It was during this move that the plane got into trouble, plunging 8,000 feet (2,432 meters) before disappearing from radar screens.
The cockpit of a Boeing 737-800 has several ways of communicating to the pilot that a plane is in danger. The “stick shaker” – a vibrating device housed within the central controls – warns that a plane is in danger of stalling; a “Bank Warning” shows when too steep a turn is being attempted; an over-speed clacker warns against performing a tricky maneuver at high speed, which risks structural damage to an aircraft.
According the report, ET409 pilot Habtamu Benti received all three alerts – including 10 “Bank Warnings” and two “stick shakers” before his plane fell from the sky.
The accident occurred at night in dark lighting conditions with reported isolated cumulonimbus and thunderstorms in the area,” the report said. Cloud cover at half-past midnight on Jan. 25 began at 2,000 feet, possibly obscuring the pilot’s view or contributing to spatial disorientation – a known factor in previous crashes.
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