Ethiopian government confirms that Flight 302 crashed despite pilots following Boeing’s guidance

Ethiopian authorities have released the preliminary findings into the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet which crashed just after take-off on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. It has been confirmed that the jet’s crew followed guidance provided by Boeing on how to fly the plane, also in emergency procedures, but had still failed to regain control of the aircraft. Ethiopian Airlines released a statement on Thursday saying the preliminary report “clearly showed” that the Flight 302 crew “followed the Boeing-recommended and FAA-approved emergency procedures.”

Similarities between the flight pattern of Flight 302 and the doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8, Flight 610, which crashed near Jakarta last year have seen the focus of attention placed on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which is a software-based program intended to take over control of the MAX 8 if it senses that the jet is climbing at too rapid a rate and that there is potential for a stall. In both instances it is believed that a fault with sensors led to the submission of faulty data to the MCAS which responded by overriding the pilots and forcing the plane’s nose unnecessarily downward. In relation to the Ethiopian Airlines crash, it is understood that having overridden the MCAS, the pilots then re-engaged it up to a possible four times.

As the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing is taking a more pragmatic approach and concentrating on a software update which was successfully trialed this week which will avoid the potential for a similar situation occurring as is suspected with the two downed jets. In the meantime, additional attention is being drawn to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its relationship with Boeing with regard to certification of the 737 MAX 8 and, according to CBS News on March 25, the U.S. Department of Transportation will establish a “special committee” of outside experts to independently review the FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 Max, amid questions that have arisen about the relationship between Boeing and the FAA. The committee’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the FAA administrator.

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