Ethiopian report on 737 Max crash blames Boeing

On the eve of the anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines B737 MAX accident, which occurred on March 10, 2019, and killed 157 people, the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Commission concludes that the accident was caused by the design of the aircraft.

The report was released a day after Boeing CEO David Calhoun, told US press, the Ethiopian pilots of the B737 MAX didn’t have as much experience as US pilots.

The conclusions of the draft Ethiopian Commission generated concern among participants in the investigation.

The Ethiopian draft contrasts with the conclusions of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee on the previous accident of a 737 MAX by Lion Air in October 2018. Indonesian investigators cited multiple factors in the accident, including the design of the plane, reduced maintenance, and the actions of the pilots.

The conclusions, which include recommendations, are only in draft form and could be modified before publication. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may request modifications to the report or offer a different conclusion.

Under ICAO regulations, Ethiopia should publish a final report before March 10, the first anniversary of the accident, and the other nations participating in the investigation have 60 days before issuing their comments. The Ethiopian report was not sent for comment until about a week ago, according to one of the reporting sources.

The NTSB received a copy of the draft interim report, said spokesman Eric Weiss, who said the National Transportation Safety Board cannot comment on the content of the draft.

Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 damaged a year ago recorded a sensor failure just after takeoff. This triggered a safety feature known as the Maneuvering Feature Enhancement System (MCAS) that was programmed to automatically lower the nose of the plane and activated approximately 80 seconds on the flight.

A preliminary report published by Ethiopian investigators last April concluded that the MCAS system played a decisive role in the accident. But he also said that the pilots had let the plane fly too fast, which made it difficult to control. The pilots began a Boeing procedure to deactivate the MCAS but apparently reactivated the system shortly before the plane entered a steep dive, according to the preliminary report.

A committee of the US Congress published last Friday the preliminary findings of its investigation, accused the US regulator (FAA) and Boeing of a series of design and safety errors.

The design and development of the B737 MAX “were marred by technical design failures, lack of transparency with both regulators and customers, and efforts to obfuscate information about the operation of the aircraft,” said the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the Chamber.