Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in 2019 was due to software glitch

The Ethiopian Minister of Transport announced, this Friday, that Ethiopian investigators confirm in their final report that a failure in the flight software is the cause of the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX in 2019.

On March 10, 2019, six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, Flight ET302 bound for Nairobi crashed southeast of the Ethiopian capital, killing all 157 passengers and crew.

The accident occurred less than five months after, under similar conditions, the crash of a 737 MAX of the Indonesian company Lion Air, which caused the death of 189 people.

The two tragedies, which plunged the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing into the worst crisis in its history, showed a failure in the flight control software, the MCAS anti-stall system.

In a preliminary report, in March 2020, Ethiopian researchers had already pointed out that the ‘design’ of the MCAS system “makes it vulnerable to unwanted activations”.

“Consistent with the preliminary report”, the final document confirmed that a sensor to the left of the aircraft “failed immediately after take-off, sending erroneous data to the flight control system”, said Minister Dagmawit Moges today.

“The wrong data triggered the MCAS system, which repeatedly pointed the nose of the aircraft until the pilot lost control” of the aircraft, he continued.

The final report should be released in the coming days, she added.

After this second air disaster in less than five months, the delivery and production of the 737 MAX was suspended and all existing aircraft were grounded for 20 months, before gradually being allowed to fly again from the end of 2020, after corrections introduced by Boeing.

Airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, returned last February more than 200 of these aircraft that were in their service.

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