Investigators release preliminary report on Ethiopian Airlines’ plane crash

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New details into the horrific crash of a Boeing 737 MAX commercial airliner reveal just how messed up the plane's flight control software really was when it brought the plane crashing down in early March.

"It appears the flight crew reactivated electric trim", former Boeing engineer Peter Lemme said.

"To ensure unintended MCAS activation will not occur again, Boeing has developed and is planning to release a software update to MCAS and an associated comprehensive pilot training and supplementary education program for the 737 Max".

The initial probe appears to confirm concerns about MCAS, with data echoing that from the crash of the Indonesian Lion Air 737 Max 8 flight in October previous year which killed 189 people.

"We're adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in MAX deliveries, allowing us to prioritize additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the MAX to flight", Muilenberg said.

In a video statement posted to Twitter, Muilenburg said the manufacturer assumes responsibility for the two fatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, both of which took place on the manufacturer's highly popular airliners.

The Max came under scrutiny following two crashes in the span of about five months involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.

After the Indonesia crash, Boeing issued a bulletin outlining how to shut down the MCAS in case of malfunction, and Thursday's preliminary report indicated that the Ethiopian pilots followed that procedure.

She recommended that Boeing review its flight-control system. Boeing still has an enormous backlog of orders - about 4,600 - for the Max planes.

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Boeing is working on a software upgrade for the maneuvering system MCAS, as well as training courses for 737 MAX pilots. The FAA is responsible for regulating aviation in the US and operating the nation's air traffic control system.

Ethiopian black box investigators confirmed Thursday that a new flight control system called MCAS, which can send the plane automatically into a nose-dive in certain unsafe situations, was activated in the final minutes of the Ethiopian flight.

"The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events", Muilenburg says.

In one statement, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was apparent that the MCAS system added to what is already a high workload environment.

The proper response to MCAS emergencies, Leeham Co analyst Bjorn Fehrm said, is to correct the unsafe nose-down "trim" using electronic thumb switches, then turn off MCAS and trim manually with the wheel.

A grand jury convened by USA prosecutors last month subpoenaed a former Boeing engineer demanding he provide testimony and documents related to the 737 Max. Had this problem been addressed sooner, the 157 people aboard the Ethiopia Airlines plane would likely still have their lives.

But if the aircraft is going too fast, those electronic switches may not be effective, European regulators said in a 2016 memo.

The plane had faulty "angle of attack" sensor readings, its nose was pushed down automatically, and the crew lost control despite following recommended instructions, it said.