New evidence points to similarities between two deadly crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8.
The New York Times reports crews uncovered plane equipment that when tilted upward would have forced the nose toward the ground.
Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines were flying the 737 Max 8 until the feds grounded the planes on Wednesday. The investigation could take weeks, if not months.
It could be a lengthy grounding for the 34 Southwest and 24 American Max 8s at Dallas Love Field Airport.
A new aerial view shows the crater left behind at the crash site of Ethiopian Air flight 302. Meanwhile, the investigation into a cause is well underway.
France is analyzing the data recorders. Already, some investigative information has leaked.
The New York Times reports that shortly before crashing, the 737 Max 8 plane erratically went up and down by hundreds of feet at an abnormally fast speed. During that time, the pilot reported a flight control problem.
Kent Krause is an attorney who specializes in aviation issues.
“If you don't have enough room to recover or you don't understand what's going on, it's too late and you're in the ground and that's probably what's happened,” he said.
The erratic altitude changes and attempt to return back to the airport add to the growing list of similarities between the crash and one involving a 737 Max 8 Lion Air flight in October. Investigators examining that crash are looking at whether software designed to prevent a stall might have automatically pushed the plane’s nose down repeatedly. It's something evidence in the Ethiopian crash also points to.
“As you do that, you're kind of fighting back and forth. The thing continues to make greater commands because it's fighting against the pilot,” Krause said. “It may end up in such a severe fashion that okay the next time he sort of let's go or think he's got it under control. It could violently force the nose down into the ground.”
Despite Boeing and U.S. airlines insisting the planes were safe to fly, the FAA grounded the planes Wednesday. It pointed to possible similarities to the Lion Air crash. U.S. pilot unions said their pilots were aware of the software issue and knew how to overcome it.
Krause says other pilots around the world should have known as well.
“All airlines in the world should be well aware of the problem,” Krause said. “And I would put it on the airlines at this juncture to have better trained and better explained to the pilots get them the training they need so that this problem didn't occur again.”
Ethiopian Airlines says their pilots received special training on the software.
Aviation expert Denny Kelly said the available information makes him wonder whether the pilots tried to turn off two stabilizer switches in the middle of the console. He says if the pilots were fighting the software, they could have regained control by flipping the switch and manually working the stabilizers.