“Ethiopian MAX Crash Simulator Scenario Stuns Pilots” (Aviation Week) describes an American crew given a comparatively trivial challenge. They were put into a sim and advised in advance that the MCAS system would go haywire. They started from a 10,000′ moderate speed (250 knots) cruise.
This is analogous to the crews that were given the “Skiles and Sully” US Air 1549 scenario and were able to do a 180-degree turn and land back at LaGuardia on a dry runway.
Piece of cake, right?
What the U.S. crew found was eye-opening. Keeping the aircraft level required significant aft-column pressure by the captain, and aerodynamic forces prevented the first officer from moving the trim wheel a full turn. They resorted to a little-known procedure to regain control. The crew repeatedly executed a three-step process known as the roller coaster. First, let the aircraft’s nose drop, removing elevator nose-down force. Second, crank the trim wheel, inputting nose-up stabilizer, as the aircraft descends. Third, pull back on the yokes to raise the nose and slow the descent. The excessive descent rates during the first two steps meant the crew got as low as 2,000 ft. during the recovery.
(i.e., they would have crashed if they hadn’t started with at least 8,000′ of altitude above the ground)
- “Foreign Airline Safety versus U.S. Major Airlines” (a lot of Americans, never short on pride in our unique competence, were blaming the foreign crews that couldn’t recover from American systems and software engineering)