Investigators: Boeing 737 MAX Anti-Stall System Involved in Ethiopian Crash

Mar 29, 2019

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Investigators probing the deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet have said that preliminary finding show a controversial anti-stall system was activated on the aircraft before it plummeted to the ground.

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, this preliminary consensus among investigators is based on information from the plane’s so-called “black boxes” and was presented to high-ranking Federal Aviation Administration officials on Thursday. The preliminary conclusion is the most solid hint to date that the anti-stall system, called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), was a cause in both the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on March 10 and Lion Air flight 610 in October 2018.

Both crashes had striking similarities, including a rollercoaster of sudden altitude changes, thought to be caused by MCAS. This anti-stall system automatically pushes down the aircraft nose when sensors indicate the nose might be pointed too high, which could cause the plane to stall. In the Lion Air crash, the black boxes revealed that the system pushed the nose down more than 24 times as pilots battled to keep the plane in the air.

The crashes had a combined death toll of 346 people. All 737 MAX planes have been grounded around the world until investigations can be completed.

Boeing is preparing a software upgrade for all of its Boeing 737 MAX jets that will purportedly fix any issues with MCAS and will roll out in the coming days. The first official crash report on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 is also expected to be released by Ethiopian officials within days.

Featured photo of the Ethiopian Airlines crash site by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

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