Experts compared the Ethiopia crash to another off the coast of Indonesia in October, which claimed the lives of 189 people. Both incidents involved Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing, said a software update would help to prevent future incidents. In a video statement, he said: “It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it, and we know how to do it. “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent accidents and are relentlessly focused on safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.” Mr Muilenburg issued the statement after a preliminary report into the crash was released. It blamed the incident – which occurred just six minutes after the plane took off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa – on an automated system meant to stop aircraft from stalling.
Mr Muilenburg said it was “apparent that in both flights, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information”.
The system was installed on both crashed planes and more than 300 others have been grounded since.
The report said the flight control system should be placed under review by Boeing and aviation authorities have been urged to check the system before it is released to operation.
It is understood the Federal Aviation Administration will be sent Boeing’s software improvement plan for the 737 Max aircraft within a matter of weeks.
But Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it was unlikely the aircraft would take to the skies “any time soon”.
Law professor Carl Tobias also told how the report would “raise questions about the planes on order and being built”.