Ethiopian investigators have confirmed in their final report that a failure in the plane’s software was the cause of the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash, the Ethiopian transport minister announced this Friday.
On March 10, 2019, six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Nairobi-bound Flight ET302 crashed southeast of the Ethiopian capital, killing 157 passengers and crew.
The crash comes less than five months after the crash of Indonesian airline Lion Air’s 737 MAX that killed 189 people.
Two tragedies that plunged North American aircraft maker Boeing into the worst crisis in its history showed the failure of the MCAS anti-stall system in its flight control software.
In an initial report in March 2020, Ethiopian investigators had already indicated that the ‘design’ of the MCAS system was “vulnerable to unintended operations”.
“Consistent with the preliminary report”, the final document states that a sensor on the left side of the plane “failed immediately after take-off, sending incorrect data to the flight control system”, Minister Dagmavit Mogs said today.
“The erroneous data triggered the MCAS system, which repeatedly pointed the nose of the aircraft until it lost control”, he continued.
He further said that the final report should be published in the coming days.
After this second plane disaster in less than five months, deliveries and production of the 737 MAX were suspended and all existing planes were grounded for 20 months, with Boeing gradually allowing them to return to flight from the end of 2020 after fixes introduced.
Airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, recalled more than 200 of their planes in service last February.