Ethiopian Airlines Releases Preliminary Report About the Boeing 737 MAX Crash

A month after the deadly Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash, Ethiopian Airlines together with Ethiopian investigators released their preliminary findings of the accident.

Before the preliminary report, the whole accident was shrouded with a mystery on what exactly happened. People in and out of the aviation industry questioned MCAS, the aircraft design itself, the experience of the pilots and even the maintenance quality of Ethiopian Airlines.

But we finally know the reason why the aircraft crashed – MCAS.

Pilots followed Boeing recommendations

As the shroud of mist clears the accident and the reason behind the crash, we finally can conclude the reason why did Flight ET302 crash after just taking off from Addis Ababa.

An international committee consisting of individuals from the FAA, Boeing, BEA and ESEA were all part of the preliminary report, which was released during a press conference in Addis Ababa.

Additionally, no foreign object damage has been found on the aircraft.

Initial findings conclude that:

  • The Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered ET-AVJ, possessed a valid certificate of airworthiness;
  • Pilots had the correct qualifications and licenses to fly the aircraft;
  • Take-off procedures were as normal.
  • Ethiopian Airlines pilots followed all the correct procedures that Boeing offered to airlines following the Lion Air Flight JT610 accident. However, even when following the guidance of the manual issued by Boeing, pilots could not stop the nose of the plane going down.

The findings were concluded after going through the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder data.

Safety recommendations

Ethiopian Airlines, together with the international committee involved in the report,  have provided two safety recommendations.

Firstly, since the pilots repeatedly tried to overturn the nose-down flight conditions, the reports recommend Boeing to review the flight control system related to the ability to properly control the flight.

Secondly, aviation authorities have to properly review the changes to the flight control system made by Boeing. Aviation authorities need to do so before the Boeing 737 MAX can fly again.

Still grounded but changes are coming

As far as the Boeing 737 MAX, it will stay grounded for an unknown period of time.

However, Boeing is already testing the newest software to prevent such accidents from happening. Boeing has stated that both the software on the aircraft and the training procedures are going to be adjusted.

First of all, MCAS will now have additional protection to prevent it from kicking in. MCAS will now compare the data from two AoA sensors, rather than one.

Secondly, MCAS will not be able to do multiple adjustments to the Angle of Attack on the Boeing 737 MAX.

Finally, MCAS will not be able to provide more input to the stabilizers than the pilots can. Pilots will be able to always manually fly and make proper adjustments to the aircraft.

Subsequently, the training procedures for the flight crew will also change drastically. After reports revealed the shocking training of the Boeing 737 MAX pilots, Boeing will now provide a different training course.

Pilots will have to attend a 21-day training course, which includes lectures by instructors and simulator sessions.

In addition, pilots will have to inspect:

  • Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin
  • Updated Speed Trim Fail Non-Normal Checklist
  • Revised Quick Reference Handbook

Boeing has stated that the newest software update has already gone under hundreds of hours of analysis, testing and verification.

The manufacturer also concluded two live flight tests, including one with FAA representatives on board the aircraft.

Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg was also present on a demo flight.

Boeing's CEO flying on the Boeing 737 MAX. Source: @Boeing on Twitter

Hopefully, the preliminary report’s safety recommendations, the changes to the software and training will prevent any more disasters from happening.