Boeing urged to review 737 Max flight control system
Addis Ababa: Ethiopian authorities on Thursday urged Boeing to review the flight control system of its 737 Max 8 aircraft, which they say contributed to the March 10 crash that claimed 157 lives.
Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges gave a summary and the recommendations of the preliminary report into the crash in which she singled out the “aircraft flight control system” as contributing to the plane’s difficulty in flying away from Addis Ababa and then crash six minutes later.
“Since repetitive uncommanded aircraft nosedown conditions were noticed in this preliminary investigation, it is recommended the aircraft flight control system related to flight controllability be reviewed by the manufacturer,” she said in a press conference here.
She said that “pilots repeatedly followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash, but despite their efforts were not able to control the aircraft”, the BBC reported.
It was the second crash of a Boeing 737 Max aircraft in five months. Last October, Lion Air flight JT 610 crashed into the sea near Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
Like the Lion Air crash, attention in the Ethiopian Airlines crash has been zeroing in on the Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — a flight control system which pushes the nose of the aircraft down to avoid a mid-air stall.
While Moges didn’t mention the MCAS by name, her comments suggested that the system was activated during the flight and the pilots were not able to use Boeing’s recommended methods to disable it.
Investigators believe MCAS also contributed to the crash in Indonesia, where they say erroneous data from an outside sensor led the system to force the nose of the plane down over and over again, reports say.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines’ Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam said he was “very proud” of the pilots’ “high level of professional performance”.
“It was very unfortunate they could not recover the airplane from the persistence of nosediving,” the airline said in a statement.
The 737 Max family of aircraft was grounded following the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Ethiopian Airlines stated following the press conference that the report showed no fault lay with the pilots who “followed the Boeing recommended and Federal Aviation Administration-approved emergency procedures”.
“Despite their hard work and full compliance with the emergency procedures, it was very unfortunate that they could not recover the airplane from the persistence of nose diving,” the airline stated.