On March 10, the world was hit by the news that a passenger aircraft operated by Africa’s top national carrier had crashed. The reference point for the information was solely the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
This article focuses on a rolling coverage of the incident straddling the before, during and aftermath of what is one of the deadliest incidents Ethiopian has faced in recent years.
Africanews’ extended coverage of ET302 crash
Preliminary report expected today, April 4
Investigators will release on Thursday a keenly awaited report on the deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, Ethiopia’s Transport Ministry said, giving the first official clues to the second crash of a new Boeing 737 MAX in five months.
“The 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) press conference is to present the preliminary report,” Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Musie Yehyies said.
The report may shed light on how a piece of cockpit software came back to life after pilots initially switched it off as they tried to save the doomed jet, people familiar with the matter said, placing both technology and crew in the spotlight.
Some 35 nationalities were among the 157 passengers and crew who died when the nearly full plane crashed six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in clear conditions.
The March 10 disaster prompted a worldwide grounding of Boeing’s best-selling plane and scrutiny of its certification process.
Ethiopian Ministry of Transport is set to give a press conference tomorrow at 10 : 30 AM, tomorrow inside the Office of the Road Authority, near Mexico Square, in front of Wabi Shebele Hotel on @flyethiopian flight #302.
— Samuel Getachew (@GetachewSS) April 3, 2019
Pilots followed Boeing’s instructions to the latter
The Wall Street Journal has reported what it says are crucial information from the flight recorder – black box – analysis of the ill-fated Ethiopian ET302 crash.
The latest details said pilots in charge of the Boeing Co. 737 MAX initially followed emergency procedures laid out by the plane maker but still failed to recover control of the jet.
Sources close to the probe said after turning off a flight-control system that was automatically pushing down the plane’s nose shortly after takeoff March 10, the crew couldn’t get the aircraft to maintain its balance till it crashed.
The disclosure of initial findings have been the subject of a ping-pong with Airline officials denying comments on it last week. Government officials also announced an imminent report release on Monday only to backtrack.
SEATTLE/PARIS, April 3 (@Reuters) – Boeing anti-stall software on a doomed Ethiopian Airlines jet re-engaged as many as four times after the crew initially turned it off due to suspect data from an airflow sensor, two people familiar with the matter said.
— Maggie Fick (@MaggieFick) April 3, 2019
Preliminary report no-show, FAA to grill Boeing software
Authorities in Ethiopia flip-flopped on an earlier report on Monday that it was due to release a preliminary report on the ET302 crash. “Not today, maybe this week,” the source said, when asked about the report.
Incidentally this Reuters source was from the Transport Ministry which is leading the team probing the incident.
A Foreign Affairs Ministry official was cited for the initial information that the report was due to be released Monday. Nebiat Getachew was widely quoted with Bloomberg adding that embattled plane maker Boeing said it was reviewing the report.
Meanwhile the United States aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA; says it was waiting to receive final package of Boeing’s software enhancement over the coming weeks.
FAA said in a statement: “Time is needed for Boeing to as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX flight control system to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues.
Upon receipt, the FAA will subject Boeing’s completed submission to a rigorous safety review. The FAAnot approve the software for installation until the agency is satisfied with the submission.”
The plane maker last week announced a software upgrade and invited its clients to a meeting over the issue. The meeting was however poorly attended with Ethiopian opting out.
— The FAA (@FAANews) April 1, 2019
Preliminary report expected today, April 1
Reports from Addis Ababa indicate that a preliminary report from the March 1 crash in Bishoftu is expected today, three weeks after the incident which claimed 157 people.
The Bloomberg news portal quoted a Foreign Ministry official, Nebiat Getachew, as confirming the information. Embattled plane maker Boeing said it was reviewing the report.
The airline had last week disputed a news item that said its CEO had hinted that a report of the ET302 flight was due last week or earliest this week.
Ethiopian said at the time that in keeping with international standards, it was waiting for the result as all concerned parties and cautioned against irresponsible reportage.
“We, at Ethiopian strongly refutes recent reports which state that Ethiopian GCEO expected the preliminary release of a report into the March 10 crash of its Boeing 737-8 MAX “maybe this week or next week”.
Ethiopian GCEO did not say anything about the time the investigation report will be released,” the said in a statement.
Boeing has been under pressure as results are being awaited. Its 737 Max 8 jets have been grounded globally with its shares plumetting on the stock market.
Two key findings from the probe indicates that there were similarities between the March 10 crash and an October 2018 incident that involved Indonesian flier Lion Air.
Late last week, the Wall Street Journal, WSJ, reported that the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a new anti-stall mechanism was activated at the time of the crash.
The newspaper said the preliminary findings from the “black box” recorders were subject to revisions. The plane crashed on March 10 shortly after take off from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya.
Investigators into the Lion Air incident have also focused on the new anti-stall system. Boeing last Wednesday said a planned software fix would prevent repeated operation of the system that is at the centre of safety concerns.
“Pitch up, pitch up” last words of worried pilot
Three weeks after the March 10 crash that claimed the lives of all 157 people on board, leaked details have indicated the final words by one of the pilots on the aircraft.
One pilot, according to the Wall Street Journal, said to the other “pitch up, pitch up!” before their radio died. It is believed that these words were contained on the flight recorder – black box.
Amid an eagerly awaited preliminary report; an anti-stalling system on the Boeing 737 Max, has been blamed for the disaste.
The plane had taken-off – and was only 450ft (137m) above the ground – when its nose began to pitch down. It crashed six minutes into the journey in the town of Bishoftu.
Boeing’s anti-stall system activated before crash – WSJ
Investigators into a Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people have reached a preliminary conclusion that an anti-stall system was activated before the plane hit the ground, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the matter.
The newspaper said the preliminary findings from the “black box” recorders were subject to revisions, adding a preliminary report from Ethiopian investigators was expected within days.
The plane crashed on March 10 shortly after take off from Addis Ababa.
Investigators into a deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia in October have also focused on the new anti-stall system, called MCAS. Boeing on Wednesday said a planned software fix would prevent repeated operation of the system that is at the centre of safety concerns.
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), although airlines are still allowed to fly them without passengers to move planes to other airports.
Boeing sued in U.S. by Rwandan kids
A lawsuit against Boeing Co was filed in U.S. federal court on Thursday in what appeared to be the first suit over a March 10 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that killed 157 people.
The lawsuit was filed in Chicago federal court by the family of Jackson Musoni, a citizen of Rwanda, and alleges that Boeing, which manufactures the 737 MAX, had defectively designed the automated flight control system.
Wednesday’s complaint was filed by Musoni’s three minor children, who are Dutch citizens residing in Belgium.
Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The 737 MAX planes were grounded worldwide following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which came five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.
Boeing said on Wednesday it had reprogrammed software on its 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system that is facing mounting scrutiny in the wake of two deadly nose-down crashes in the past five months.
The planemaker said the anti-stall system, which is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in at least one of the accidents, in Indonesia last October, would only do so once per event after sensing a problem, giving pilots more control.
The crash of Boeing’s passenger jet in Ethiopia raised the chances that families of the victims, even non-U.S. residents, will be able to sue in U.S. courts, where payouts are much larger than in other countries, some legal experts have said.
The lawsuit says Boeing failed to warn the public, airlines and pilots of the airplane’s allegedly erroneous sensors, causing the aircraft to dive automatically and uncontrollably.
Ethiopian officials and some analysts have said the Ethiopian Airlines jet behaved in a similar pattern as the 737 MAX involved in October’s Lion Air disaster. The investigation into the March crash, which is being led by the Ethiopian Transport Ministry, is still at an early stage
Boeing unveils software fix to 737 MAX
Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged Wednesday to do all it can to prevent crashes like two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.
Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters to unveil the changes to the MCAS stall prevention system, which has been implicated in the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, as part of a charm offensive to restore the company’s reputation.
“We are going to do everything to make sure that accidents like this don’t happen again,” Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy, told reporters at a factory in Washington state.
Sinnett said were developed “after months of testing and hundreds of hours” — at the company’s massive factory in Renton, Washington.
The MCAS, which lowers the aircraft’s nose if it detects a stall or loss of airspeed, was developed specifically for the 737 MAX, which has heavier engines than its predecessor.
Among the changes, the MCAS will no longer repeatedly make corrections when the pilot tries to regain control, and will automatically disconnect in the event of disagreements between the two “angle of attack” (AOA) sensors, the company said.
The initial investigation into the October Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed all 189 people on board, found that one of the AOA sensors failed but continued to transmit erroneous information to the MCAS.
Boeing also will install a warning feature — at no cost —- called a “disagree light” to indicate to the pilot when the left and right AOA sensors are out of sync.
The company also is revising pilot training, including for those already certified on the 737, to provide “enhanced understanding of the 737 MAX” flight system and crew procedures.