Ethiopian Airlines 737 crash report expected Thursday


Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters that "since repetitive uncommanded aircraft nose down conditions are is recommended that the aircraft control system shall be reviewed by the manufacturer".

The disaster was the second such crash of a Max 8 jet in less than six months, and raised fears about the model's automated software, prompting the worldwide grounding of all similar planes now in service.

The Ethiopian probe appeared to confirm suspicions about the so-called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, with data echoing that from the crash of the Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX 8 flight in October past year which killed 189 people.

Boeing's fastest-selling 737 MAX jet, with orders worth more than $500 billion at list prices, has been grounded globally by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Citizens from more than 30 countries were on board.

The day before its crash, the Lion Air jet also reported unusual variations in altitude and airspeed at the start of the flight.

Officials briefed on the matter said a key question is when did the pilots at the helm of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX disengage the MCAS system and did they do it too late to regain control of the airplane.

In their statement, Group CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam defended Ethiopian Airlines pilots and said, "We are very proud of our pilots compliances to follow the emergency procedures and high level of professional performances in such extremely hard situations".

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The erroneous input activated an autopilot system on the plane known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that automatically forces the plane's nose down. This is similar to what investigators looking into the Lion Air crash found, according to the release.

However, Moges told The New York Times after the press conference that the pilots turned MCAS on and off, but she couldn't say how many times.

Flight ET302 crashed after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing 157 people.

"Following this checklist did not appear to allow the pilots to regain control of the aircraft", said Captain Jason Goldberg, spokesman for Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots.

The FAA said in a statement that it is continuing to work toward a full understanding of what happened and will take appropriate action as findings become available.

"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".

Boeing is working to submit an upgrade of the software to the United States regulators in a couple of weeks and adding extra training.

Ethiopian investigators did not blame anyone for the crash, stressing the importance of worldwide rules requiring civil probes to focus on recommendations for safer flight.