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Boeing: 'It's Apparent' MCAS Tech Played Role in Deadly Lion, Ethiopian Crashes

© REUTERS / Tiksa NegeriEngine parts are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019
Engine parts are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019 - Sputnik International
Dennis Muilenberg, the chairman, president and CEO of The Boeing Company, said in a statement on Thursday that the manufacturer's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) played a role in the recent deadly crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights.

"The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports, but, with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident investigation, it's apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information," Muilenberg said.

"As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it."

​The statement also stressed that a looming update to the system would "eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again." New training and "additional educational materials" would be delivered to pilots.

The cockpit of Jet Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircarft - Sputnik International
Boeing Tests New 737 MAX Software Amid Probe Into Ethiopian Airlines' Crash

On March 10, a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed moments after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. Recently released reports have shown that air traffic controllers lost contact just a few minutes after its departure. The same occurred months prior in October 2018 when a Lion Air-operated 737 Max 8 jet crashed into the Java Sea after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 passengers on the Lion Air were killed.

In both crashes, Max 8's MCAS system was implicated as a cause. The troubled system was initially designed as a safety feature meant to push down the nose of the plane in an effort to prevent the aircraft from stalling in the event that it reached too high of an altitude.

As a response to the crashes, countries around the world grounded the jetliner until a full investigation could be carried out.

Following Boeing's early statement, The Washington Post reported that a review of the MCAS system resulted in the discovery of "additional software problem," and that the US' Federal Aviation Administration has ordered that it be cleared before the Boeing Max 8 fleet is cleared for flight again. Boeing has reportedly stated that the issues are unrelated to the anti-stall system, and called the problem "relatively minor."

On Thursday, the family of Samyo Stumo, a 24-year-old woman who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court in Chicago against Boeing and Rosemount Aerospace Inc., the Delaware-based company that made the jetliner's MCAS system.

Dr. Alan Diehl, an award-winning aviation psychologist and safety consultant who in the 1990s became a major air safety whistleblower, told Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear on Thursday that while Boeing may suffer some setback from lawsuits, "the bigger issue is the fact that they have 5,000 of these aircrafts, almost, on order and they don't want airlines canceling those contracts."

An even bigger issue for Boeing, he said, is that airlines might not even want to consider their replacement for the aging Boeing 757 that companies are still flying.
Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, March 11, 2019 - Sputnik International
Just Before Impact: Final Moments of Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Jet REVEALED

"If the airlines are unhappy with the 737 Max [8] they might not jump on the bandwagon to buy this new Boeing aircraft," Diehl told host John Kiriakou. "So, there's a lot a stake for Boeing besides the lawsuits."

Boeing's latest announcement that the MCAS technology played a role in the fatal crashes comes on the same day that investigators announced findings from a preliminary report on the downed Ethiopian Airlines plane. Initial findings show that even though the flight crew performed all procedures recommended by Boeing in the event of a MCAS malfunction, they were still unable to regain control of the aircraft.

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