After reviewing the flight data, I now see the pilot was controlling the throttles and was mostly respecting the flap and aircraft speed limitations. I was wrongly confusing the data from the second crash with this one.The Final report is out. I’m having trouble posting a link.
After reading through the transcript and data, it is doubtful this crew could have recovered the aircraft regardless of MCAS trimming. The bad AoA and the resulting bogus indications caused by that were overwhelming for this crew. Had they flown a known pitch and power setting and scanned all indications, they could have quickly determined all indications were normal on the right side.
They simply didn’t know and didn’t do the immediate action memory items for airspeed unreliable. That’s a pretty serious training problem. Perhaps the stick shaker was an overwhelming factor that they just couldn’t ignore but at some point you have got to figure out takeoff power in level flight might actually give you 200+ knots above stall speed. It’s scary to think this might be an average crew at some airlines.
edit: the comments above were based on my misinterpretation of the data. I’d like to retract some or all of this in a follow on post.
This captain’s initial actions were within the range of responses of average pilots, IMO. No, he didn’t do or know the immediate actions for airspeed unreliable but he was controlling pitch and power. His performance was below average and his decision to fly while suffering flu symptoms probably didn’t help. However, he probably could have eventually figured out how to recover the aircraft to a safe landing, but...
Compound emergencies present challenges that make it hard to predict a typical pilot response. The MCAS effectively required this crew to perform two separate emergency checklists; airspeed unreliable and runaway stab trim. Confusion with the first effectively masked the need for the second.
The captain (at a subconscious level) knew of the trim malfunction. Yeah, it’s simple enough to just flip the switches off per memory items but human factors of multiple or compounded emergencies muddies the water.
FWIW, at least one airline sampled crew response to the same scenario in the simulator. In keeping with “first look” criteria, no prior discussion or training was provided before surprising the crews. While crew performance varied, all were able to recover and land safely.