Investigations into the Boeing 737 MAX crash that occurred in Ethiopia on March 10 have reached a preliminary conclusion. Wall Street Journal(WSJ) on Friday reported that officials investigating the crash suspected that an anti-stall system, a flight control feature was automatically activated before the plane nose dived into the ground, according to people briefed on the matter.
The newspaper said the preliminary findings from the black box recorders were subject to revisions, adding a preliminary report from Ethiopian investigators was expected within days.
Investigators looking into a deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia in October 2018 have also focused on the new anti-stall system, also called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
According to a preliminary report from Indonesia investigators released in November, the MCAS on the Lion Air flight was repeatedly pushing the plane’s nose down due to erroneous sensor information.
The two crashes claimed a total of 346 lives within the space of five months.
On Wednesday, Boeing said a planned software fix would prevent repeated operation of the system that is at the center of safety concerns. Instead of depending on a single sensor signaling the angle of the plane’s nose, the MCAS will rely on data from both of the plane’s sensors.
Boeing’s fastest selling 737 MAX jet, with orders worth more than $500bn at list prices, has been grounded globally by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, although airlines are still allowed to fly them without passengers to move planes to other airports.
On Wednesday, US crew declared an emergency performance issue after taking off in a 737 MAX and returned to Orlando, Florida airport safely. The FAA said it’s investigating but that the emergency was not related to MCAS.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit against Boeing was filed in a Chicago federal court on Thursday by the family of Jackson Musoni, a Rwanda citizen and United Nations employee who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. The lawsuit alleged that Boeing had defectively designed the automated flight control system. Boeing stated that it could not comment on the lawsuit.
The amount and quality of training that Boeing and airlines provided to 737 MAX pilots is one of the issues under scrutiny as investigators around the world try to determine the causes of two 737 MAX crashes within five months.
The US Department of Justice is investigating Boeing’s development process and what Boeing disclosed about MCAS.
The US Transportation Department said on Monday that a new blue ribbon commission will review how the FAA certifies new aircraft.
Additional report from AFP