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Ethiopian preliminary crash report says pilots acted correctly

By Morris Kiruga, in Nairobi
Posted on Thursday, 4 April 2019 13:48

Ethiopian transport minister Dagmawit Moges addressing journalists at the press conference today. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The preliminary investigation into the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shows that the pilots "repeatedly performed" all the procedures recommended by Boeing on how to handle the anti-stall system, the Ethiopian government has said.

Ethiopia’s minister for transport, Dagmawit Moges, released the preliminary findings at a press conference in Addis Ababa today. She added that the “take-off appeared very normal” but the crew was unable to regain control of the airplane despite following Boeing’s recommended procedures.

  • The report also showed that the pilots of the ill-fated aircraft had the licence and qualifications to handle the flight.
  • On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the pilots switched off the anti-stall system and then cranked a manual wheel before switching back to the usual electric trim.
  • The investigation chairman, Amdeye Ayalew, said that the investigators had not found any design problem or foreign object damage. He said: “Is there a structural design problem? We cannot predict right now.”

Ethiopian Airlines reacted to the report saying: “Despite their hard work and full compliance with the emergency procedures, it is very unfortunate that they could not recover the airplane from the persistence of nose diving.”

  • CEO Tewolde GebreMariam added that the airline was “very proud of our pilots’ compliances to follow the emergency procedures and high level of professional performances in such extremely difficult situations”.

The Ethiopian government recommended that the manufacturer (Boeing) review the aircraft control system, and that aviation authorities review the same issues of controllability and ensure they are “adequately addressed” before allowing the Boeing 737 Max-8 to fly again.

  • Although the preliminary report has not been published yet, the information from the press conference is likely to pile pressure on Boeing and the FAA to solve the issue effectively. While Boeing says it has solved the problem, the new software update still has not received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • It is also likely to influence the lawsuits being filed against the manufacturer and the airline.
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