Confirmed: Boeing 737 Max software triggered Ethiopian Airlines crash sequence


Ethiopian officials were expected to release their preliminary findings shortly.

These are the first details to emerge since Ethiopian investigators shared the fatal flight's black box data with worldwide aviation experts earlier this week.

In the wake of the tragedy, aviation authorities and carriers around the world, including in Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, France, Germany, South Africa, the European Union, China and Russian Federation, have either grounded all 737 MAX 8 series aircraft or closed their airspace to them. The FAA also has not yet formally received Boeing's proposed software upgrade.

The figure is attributed to costs for replacement aircraft, higher fuel charges, disruption and the impact on trading following the global grounding of the planes in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed 157 people.

The Seattle-based manufacturer has since been scrutinized for its training practices leading up to the launch of the 737 MAX 8 jets, including public congressional hearings and an Inspector General investigation into the Department of Transportation's certification process for the plane. Investigators in the Lion Air case highlighted how pilots battled to keep the plane pointing up as the system automatically forced the nose down. The software had kicked in on the same aircraft the day before, when an off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit was able to save the plane by helping to cut the power to the rogue system.

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It was yet another blow to the aviation giant, which just this week unveiled a fix to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). He said it was vital European authorities also got involved in the investigation.

The MCAS, which lowers the aircraft's nose if it detects a stall or loss of airspeed, was developed specifically for the 737 MAX, which has heavier engines than its predecessor. Boeing reasoned that crews were already drilled to counter similar behavior by the 737's horizontal stabilizer, running through a checklist to flip two center-console switches.

Citing people with knowledge about the probe, the Journal said the consensus among investigators was revealed during a high-level briefing at the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday.

With Boeing's best-selling model out of action and its future in the balance, establishing the cause of the Ethiopian tragedy has become critical.

These initial airflow readings from the Ethiopian jet, first reported by Reuters, refer to stall-related information needed to trigger the automated nose-down MCAS system.