Pilots restarted software before Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash: Report

Passengers’ personal belongings are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, Addis Ababa, March 12, 2019. /VCG Photo

Pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max that crashed in 2019 reactivated the jet’s flight control software that prevents aerodynamic stalls in a desperate attempt to prevent the crash, a report by Ethiopian investigators shows.

The interim report released on Monday by Ethiopia’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau said turning on the MCAS software sent the plane into a nosedive, increasing its descent rate from 100 feet per minute to more than 5,000 feet per minute.

The 737 Max aircraft crashed just six minutes after takeoff from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The report which was released a day after the anniversary of the crash makes recommendations and gives clues to the cause, though no analysis is expected until the final report is made public later this year.

According to the report, when MCAS first activated shortly after takeoff, pilots followed protocol by turning it off and trying to control a stabilizer on the tail manually to point the nose back up. But their air speed was 575 miles per hour (925 kilometers per hour), which some experts believe put too much force on the stabilizer, making manual movement nearly impossible.

The report also blames a faulty sensor reading that led to the events that caused the crash.

In a statement on Monday, Boeing said it was providing technical assistance to support the probe.

“We look forward to reviewing the full details and formal recommendations that will be included in the final report from the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau,” it said.