Pressure rises on Boeing over Ethiopian Airlines, Lion Air crash parallels

Relatives have wept over empty caskets at a mass funeral for the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims. Net

Last week's Ethiopian crash sparked the concern of aviation authorities that there may be a design fault with the craft, wiping billions of dollars off Boeing's market value and grounding the planes in countries around the world.

What is the MCAS system anyway?

Boeing has faced mounting pressure after Ethiopia's transport minister noted parallels between its crash and one in Indonesia, bringing into question the safety of software installed in Boeing 737 MAX planes.

Both the Lion Air jet, which crashed in October, killing 189 people, and the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, which went down on March 10, leaving 157 people dead, were fitted with the system.

Boeing told the newspaper Saturday that the FAA had reviewed the company's data on the plane and "concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements".

Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were sent to Paris for analysis by the French air accident investigation agency BEA.

Lion Air's MCAS was reportedly set off multiple time before the crash, according to The Times, and it's been theorized that a faulty sensor could have triggered the system incorrectly, causing the accident.

United States federal prosecutors and regulators have opened an inquiry into the development of Boeing 737 Max airplanes following two fatal crashes, a move that comes as scrutiny is mounting over Boeing and the US's top aviation regulator's role in certifying the aircraft.

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Under worldwide rules, a preliminary report on the crash must be released within 30 days.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has previously said the pilot of Flight 302 had "flight control problems" shortly before the plane crashed. We also continue to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Accredited Representative working with Ethiopian investigators.

A preliminary report of the Lion Air crash also showed that the pilots fought with the automatic safety system, known as the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), for control of the jet.

The report said the analysis understated the power of the system which could push the nose of the plane down, that it could reset itself after a pilot countered it, and that the consequences of its failure were mischaracterised, allowing MCAS to rely on data from a sole sensor.

The FAA has said that the Boeing 737 will not fly until a software update can be tested and installed.

In 2018, USA pilots had also reported separate issues anonymously to NASA regarding automated flight control problems, but no direct action was taken in response.

The FAA has said that the Boeing 737 will not fly until a software update can be tested and installed.

"MCAS is created to automatically counteract that tendency and point the nose of the plane downward".

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