Ethiopian Airlines boeing 737 'hit by object' causing it to crash

U.S. Senate panel reviewing whistleblower claims on aviation safety panel chair

The pilots aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 followed proper procedure and guidelines before its deadly crash, according to a preliminary report.

Ethiopia said on Tuesday an investigation into the cause of the crash is complete but did not indicate when the final report will be released, with reports indicating that an anti-stall system in the 737 Max was to blame.

Boeing Co., Ethiopian Airlines and aircraft-sensor maker Rosemount Aerospace Inc. were sued in the US for alleged negligence in connection with a plane crash last month that killed 157 people and intensified concern about the safety of 737 Max passenger jets.

Boeing's top-selling aircraft was grounded worldwide following the disaster, which came five months after a Lion Air 737 MAX crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people. "We will carefully review the AIB's preliminary report, and will take any and all additional steps necessary to enhance the safety of our aircraft".

After the pilots turned off MCAS, the airplane over the next few minutes gained roughly 2,000 feet, but dived into the ground after the MCAS system re-engaged, a source told Reuters.

The Ethiopian investigators' preliminary findings put the embattled United States aviation giant under even greater pressure to restore clients' confidence and demonstrate the airworthiness of planes that crashed twice in less than five months.

Based on the preliminary information gathered during investigations, the report makes two recommendations which include a review by Boeing on flight controllability. "My highest appreciation also goes to my 16, 000 colleagues atEthiopian Airlines for their resilience, high standards of professionalism and their continued commitment for operational excellence and their award winning customer services which enabled us to continue our business with out any operational disruption, flight delays nor flight cancellations", he said.

The comments underscored the need for a software update that Boeing already has under way for an anti-stall system that can push down the plane's nose. Boeing's procedures instruct pilots to leave the MCAS system disconnected and continue flying manually for the rest of the flight.

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Officials denied reports of tensions between Ethiopian officials and USA and other foreign investigators accredited to the probe.

Boeing said after a similar 737 MAX fatal crash in Indonesia a year ago that its procedures would have worked, WSJ said.

Both the planes appeared to ascend and descend erratically, suggesting the pilots struggled to maintain control.

"We are very proud of our pilots' compliances to follow the emergency procedures, and high level of professional performances in such extremely hard situations", GebreMariam's statement noted.

The crash led to a global grounding of 737 MAX jets and scrutiny of its certification process.

The planemaker says the upgrades are not an admission that MCAS caused the crashes.

Officials briefed on the matter said a key question is when did the pilots at the helm of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max disengage the MCAS system and did they do it too late to regain control of the airplane.

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