Ethiopian Airlines Crash Likely Due to Problematic Boeing 737 Max 8 Safety Feature, Say Investigators

Investigators examining data from Ethiopian Airlines flight 302’s black boxes have come to a preliminary conclusion. They say the anti-stall feature of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 activated before the plane nosedived into the ground, according to the Wall Street Journal. The conclusions could see revisions.

The same mechanism was suspect in the Lion Air crash in October 2018. Between the two crashes, 346 people died onboard.

The feature, called MCAS or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, is supposed to help prevent a stall if a plane flies at too sharp an upward angle and, as a result, the wings lose their lift. But if activated at the wrong time, like shortly after takeoff, the system can force the nose down, causing the 737 to suddenly lose altitude.

Boeing (BA) announced its fix to the MCAS problem on Wednesday in a presentation to aviation experts from around the world. The aerospace giant has trying to recover its reputation. The 737 Max 8 has been grounded for weeks. Boeing has seen orders canceled. China on Tuesday announced that it would buy 300 jets from competitor Airbus.

Ultimately, it will take more than a fix. Airline regulators around the world will have to sign off on the changes before the 737 MAX 8 can return to the air. That could take weeks or even months in some countries.

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