Preliminary findings from a report into the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crash inquiry have revealed the crew was unable to control the aircraft despite repeatedly performing required recovery procedures.
The Ethiopian Transport Ministry has released initial recommendations in the wake of the 10 March crash on 10 March and killed all 149 on board, which occurred as the aircraft departed Addis Ababa for Nairobi as flight ET302.
The briefing on the findings said the aircraft had a valid airworthiness certificate and the crew had obtained the licences and qualifications necessary to conduct the flight. The take-off roll appeared “very normal”, the ministry said.
However, it refers to “uncommanded nose-down conditions” and adds that the crew “repeatedly” performed “all procedures” provided by the manufacturer “but was not able to control the aircraft”.
The ministry says it is recommending that the aircraft’s flight-control system should be “reviewed” by the manufacturer.
In response to the report, Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Group said the report “clearly showed” that the pilots who were commanding Flight ET302/10 March have followed Boeing’s recommended and FAA’s approved emergency procedures to handle the most difficult emergency situation created on the airplane.
Chief executive officer (CEO), Tewolde GebreMariam said: “All of us at Ethiopian Airlines are still going through deep mourning for the loss of our loved ones and we would like to express our deep sympathy and condolences for the families, relatives and friends of the victims.
“Meanwhile, we are very proud of our pilots’ compliances to follow the emergency procedures and high level of professional performances in such extremely difficult situations.”
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said: “The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports, but, with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident investigation, it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.
“The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents. As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.
“From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.
“We’re taking a comprehensive, disciplined approach, and taking the time, to get the software update right. We’re nearing completion and anticipate its certification and implementation on the 737 MAX fleet worldwide in the weeks ahead. We regret the impact the grounding has had on our airline customers and their passengers.
“This update, along with the associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of these accidents, will eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.”
He added Boeing remain confident in the “fundamental safety” of the 737 Max.