Ethiopian Airlines 737 crash report expected Thursday

UAE to validate any Boeing MAX fix before lifting airspace ban

The pilots shut off the anti-stall system, called the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, but switched it back on because they could not regain control, The Journal reported, citing people briefed on the preliminary findings.

The initial report, unveiled by Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges, cast further doubt on the system controlling the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model, which has been grounded worldwide for nearly a month.

The FAA said the group "will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the automated flight control system on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft" and "evaluate aspects of the 737 Max automated flight control system, including its design and pilots' interaction with the system, to determine its compliance with all applicable regulations and to identify future enhancements that might be needed".

The findings drew the strongest link yet between the March 10 crash in Ethiopia and an October crash off the coast of Indonesia, which both involved Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners.

Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said MCAS needs to be reviewed by Boeing and aviation authorities before the plane is back in the air. It was the second recent fatal crash of a 737 MAX.

Families of the victims, regulators and travellers around the world have been waiting for signs of whether the two crashes are linked, and the extent to which Boeing technology and the actions of the Ethiopian Airlines pilots played a role.

Typically, a preliminary report from air crash investigators doesn't seek to find fault. I heard the full report may take one year.

The other recommends that aviation authorities review changes to the flight control system ahead of the release of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft "to operations".

"Since repetitive uncommanded aircraft nose down conditions are noticed.it is recommend that the aircraft control system shall be reviewed by the manufacturer", Moges said.

"In an emergency like this, that MCAS software is a monster".




Investigators are looking into the role of MCAS, which under some circumstances can automatically lower the plane's nose to prevent an aerodynamic stall. Boeing was expected to submit a software fix for the stabilization system last week, but the FAA announced Monday that the company would need additional weeks of work on the fix.

Despite the conciliatory comments in the wake of suggestions of tension between United States and Ethiopian investigators, the way in which the Ethiopians presented what is an internationally significant report is likely to raise questions about the processes involved.

The airline said it was "very proud of our pilots' compliances to follow the emergency procedures and high level of professional performances in such extremely hard situations". Among the areas of focus for criminal investigators are the processes by which Boeing itself certified the plane as safe and the data it presented the FAA about that self-certification, the sources said.

Questions on whether the pilots had levelled out the plane before disengaging MCAS and how many times MCAS activated were not answered in a news conference that lasted about 40 minutes. Incorrectly sensing a stall, the aircraft's system tried to force the nose down four separate times during the flight, in the end overpowering the flight crew's ability to keep the airplane climbing.

"We don't have any reservations from different stakeholders who were engaged in the investigations", chief investigator Amdye Ayalew Fanta said.

Ethiopian investigators did not address that issue at Thursday's news conference, saying only that the pilots had done what they were supposed to.

A preliminary report released on Thursday indicated Ethiopian Airlines pilots wrestled with controls to stay aloft but plunged to the ground after restoring a computer system that was ordering the nose down because of faulty sensor data.

"Pilots shouldn't have to cope with such an emergency situation".

"It is unusual for there to be a single cause", he added.

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