An article in the ‘New York Times’ regarding the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 which crashed in Amsterdam in 2009, alleges that official analysis for reasons for the crash were covered up. The article states that design errors, poor security testing and not informing pilots how to react in the event of an error, led to the accident.
The Boeing bound for Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam in 2009 had 128 passengers and 7 crew members on board. Nine people died in the crash.
Based on the documents and interviews made by the ‘New York Times’, the article states says that criticism of the Boeing had been avoided following objections by Dutch officials, Boeing and US federal security officials, in a similar manner after two fatal crashes of the Boeing Air Max planes occurred in 2018. Since which, all Boeing Air Max planes were suspended from use.
In the incident where nine people died after the plane crash landed in a field near Schiphol Airport in 2009, parallels were drawn between the THY plane crash in 2009 and the two Boeing 737 Air Max plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
In 2009, the THY flight to Schiphol was cleared to land but the landing gear had not been deployed. A faulty sensor caused the plane to reduce speed. While on final approach for landing, the aircraft was about 2,000 ft (610 m) above ground, when the left-hand (captain’s) radio altimeter suddenly changed from 1,950 feet (590 m) to read −8 feet (−2.4 m) height, although the right-hand (co-pilot’s) radio altimeter functioned correctly. The voice recording showed that the crew was given an audible warning signal (“TOO LOW!, GEAR!”) that indicated that the aircraft’s landing gear should be down, as the aircraft was, according to the radio altimeter, flying too low. Later, the safety board’s preliminary report modified this analysis, indicating that the flight data recorder history of the captain’s radio altimeter showed 8191 feet (the maximum possible recorded) until the aircraft descended through 1950, then suddenly showed minus 8 feet.
The planed crash landed on a nearby field, breaking into three pieces but did not catch fire.
The bodies of the pilots were the last to be removed because the cockpit had to be examined first.
The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered quickly after the crash, after which they were transported to Paris to read out the data. The Dutch public prosecution initially asked the Dutch Safety Board to hand over the black boxes, but the Board refused to do so. It stated that there was no indication of homicide, manslaughter, hijacking or terrorism, which would warrant an investigation by the prosecution.
Dr. Sidney Dekker, an aviation safety expert who was commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board to analyse the crash wrote that in the three above-mentioned accidents a single sensor caused systems to malfunction, with catastrophic results. He added that Boeing had not provided pilots with information in the safety manual that could have prompted them react to the malfunction. The earlier accident “represents such a sentinel event that was never taken seriously”, Dr. Dekker said.
Boeing has denied similarities between the three accidents.
Dr. Dekker’s study accused Boeing of trying to divert attention from its own “design shortcomings” and other mistakes with “hardly credible” statements that warned pilots to be more vigilant, according to a copy reviewed by ‘The New YorkTimes’.
Dr. David Woods, who was Dr. Dekker’s Ph.D. adviser, said the decision to omit or underplay the study’s main findings enabled Boeing and its American regulators to carry out “the narrowest possible changes”.
Boeing should have been deterred by the problem with the single sensor, from using a similar design in the Max, instead, “the issue got buried”, he said.
It must be emphasised that Turkish Airlines’ currently use a fleet of Airbus A330-300’s. Use of their fleet of 12 Boeing 737 Air Max planes was suspended in March, 2019.
Yeni Duzen, Wikipedia, New York Times