In a statement following the preliminary report from Ethiopian authorities, Boeing said flight data recorder information indicates the airplane had an erroneous angle of attack sensor input that activated a system known as MCAS, similar to the Lion Air disaster.
The doomed Ethiopian flight repeatedly nosedived as the pilots battled to control the almost full aircraft before it crashed, Ethiopian authorities said on Thursday, while urging Boeing to review its flight control technology on the MAX.
The preliminary report byEthiopian officials said they could not yet determine whether there was a structural problem with the aircraft, based on data retrieved from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
The other recommends that aviation authorities review changes to the flight control system ahead of the release of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft "to operations".
Thursday's complaint accuses Boeing of putting "profits over safety" and said the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration must also be held accountable for certifying the 737 MAX.
The pilots on board Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 battled the plane's automated trim system for almost the entire duration of the 6-minute flight, according to a preliminary report obtained by CNN Thursday. Eventually the Ethiopian Airlines pilots couldn't keep the plane from crashing into the ground, killing all 157 people on board.
Citizens from over 30 countries were on board.
That description echoes the behavior of another Max 8 plane - Lion Air Flight 610 - which crashed in October previous year. The software update, Boeing said, adds layers of protection and will stop erroneous data from activating the system. Ethiopian officials had previously said readings from black box data showed "clear" similarities between the two flights.
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Without specifically naming the MCAS system, Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said that the plane experienced "repetitive uncommanded aircraft nose-down conditions". Boeing's procedures instruct pilots to leave the MCAS disconnected and continue flying manually for the rest of the flight.
The MCAS system is meant to compensate for thisby overriding the pilot and forcing the plane's nose down, if data from an "angle of attack" (AOA) - sensor indicates the jet's nose is too high.
Ethiopian investigators did not address that issue at its press conference, saying only that the pilots had done what they were supposed to. "It is so sad to learn that our loved ones would have been spared if this problem was detected on time". The pilot had reported technical difficulties after takeoff and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa. Stumo is a great grand-niece of consumer advocate Ralph Nader.
The March 10 disaster was the second crash of a MAX 8 in five months and has prompted the worldwide grounding of Boeing's best-selling plane.
On Tuesday, the US Senate Commerce Committee said it was investigating claims by a number of whistle-blowers that aviation safety inspectors, including some who worked to evaluate the now-grounded Boeing 737 Max, were not properly trained or certified.
Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican, said in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration that the FAA may have been notified about the training and certification concerns as early as August 2018 - before the Indonesia crash - citing information from the whistleblowers and documents. The agency was also reluctant to ground the planes after the Ethiopian Airlines crash and was among the last agencies to do so. The FAA has said it will review the software before allowing the Max to fly again.
Typically, a preliminary report from air crash investigators doesn't seek to find fault.