This morning the Dutch investigators are holding a press conference on the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 crash at Amsterdam last week and I understand that later Boeing will release a safety bulletin. From a reliable source, the contents of the Boeing bulletin will include the points below. Regrettably they don’t reflect well on the pilots, who are dead of course – but I’d caution that there is a long investigation still to come.
- no evidence of fuel shortage, birdstrike, icing, windshear, wake turbulence, or engine, system or control malfunction
- the first officer was initially flying the aircraft and was inexperienced in airline operations
- autopilot and autothrottle were in use
- the aircraft was initially high and fast on the approach and at about 2,000ft above ground the throttles were pulled to idle
- the authrottle went to “retard” mode and the throttles then stayed at idle for about 100 seconds during which time the speed fell to 40kt below reference speed
- the aircraft descended through the glideslope with the captain talking the first officer through the before landing checklist
- the stick shaker activated at about 400ft above ground and the first officer increased power
- the captain took control and as the first officer released the throttles they moved to idle due to being in “retard” mode
- after six seconds the throttles were advanced but as the engines responded the aircraft hit the ground in a slightly nose-high attitude
- throughout the episode the left-hand radio altimeter read negative seven feet altitude, but the right-hand radalt worked correctly
Boeing will warn crews about fundamentals like flying the aircraft, monitoring airspeed, monitoring altitude, and will give advice about radalt issues.