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Ethiopian Airlines crash report expected this week: government

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on March 10, southeast of Addis Ababa © AFP/File / TONY KARUMBA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Apr 1 – A preliminary report into the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in which 157 people died will be likely issued this week, the Ethiopian government said Monday.

It gave no details on the exact timing of the release, nor hints about the report’s findings.

Foreign ministry spokesman Nebiat Getachew said the transport ministry would release “a preliminary report into its investigation” of the March 10 tragedy in which a Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa.

Nebiat initially said the report would be released Monday, but the transport ministry which is in charge of investigations, later said it would still be some days.

“The report will most likely be released some day later this week,” transport ministry spokesman Mussie Yiheyes said.

The airplane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, was the same model than the Indonesian Lion Air plane which crashed in October, killing 189 people on board.

After the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX, the aircraft was grounded worldwide.

It was not clear Monday if the transport ministry’s preliminary report would be made public straight away, or limited to the eyes of authorities including the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The plane’s black boxes are being examined by France’s BEA air safety agency, working with American and Ethiopian investigators to determine what went wrong.

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Families in 35 nations were left bereaved when the plane crashed into a field just minutes after takeoff from the highland capital on a flight south to neighbouring Kenya.

– Anti-stall system –

A source with knowledge of the investigation has said an anti-stalling system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), was activated shortly before the crash.

Boeing designed the automated MCAS system — which lowers the aircraft’s nose if it detects a stall or loss of airspeed — for this particular model.

The same system was implicated in the October crash, with initial investigations finding that a sensor on the plane had transmitted incorrect information to the MCAS system.

The pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the MCAS repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down, according to the flight data recorder.

The pilot had tried repeatedly to regain control and pull the nose up, but the plane crashed into the sea.

Both the planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia reportedly experienced erratic steep climbs and descents, as well as fluctuating airspeeds, before crashing shortly after takeoff.

The two crashes have been a major blow for Boeing, triggering the US manufacturer’s biggest crisis in decades.

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Ethiopia has already said there were “clear similarities” between the two MAX 8 crashes.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and in many ways the international face of the nation.


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