Boeing Acknowledges Role of Software in Ethiopian Crash

In a video and written statement Boeing say they are fixing the problem.
Jessica Miley

Boeing has for the first time acknowledged their role in the two recent plane crashes that cost the lives of 346 people. In a statement and video released by the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenburg stresses their sorrow for the lack of lives, saying the accidents weigh heavily on the company.


They then go further to acknowledge the role the plains software had in possibly causing the two crashes. 

“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.”

We own it

Boeing has made it clear they are not going to shy away from their responsibility. 

“The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents. 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 continues.

Boeing revealed it has devoted a large amount of resources towards working with the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a new software update that will ensure similar accidents do not occur again. 

The Ethiopian Air plane crashed just six minutes after takeoff in similar circumstances to a Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia in October. In both cases, all crew and passengers on board were killed.

Pilots fought against software

Pilots in both airplanes seem to have had trouble regaining control of the aircraft after the MCAS system pushed the nose of the jets down to keep them from stalling. 

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"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft," Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters at a news conference earlier Thursday.

The investigation determined that the pilots on the Ethiopian flights turned the anti-stall system on and off again in an attempt to regain control of the aircraft. 

Moges didn’t go as far as to outright blame the MCAS software but she made it clear that this system would be heavily scrutinized before the Boeing 737 MAX planes would be allowed to fly again. 

"Since repetitive uncommanded aircraft nose-down conditions are noticed ... it is recommended that the aircraft control system shall be reviewed by the manufacturer," Dagmawit said.

Boeing is upbeat that once they update the software the ban on the planes will be lifted. 

“We remain confident in the fundamental safety of the 737 MAX. All who fly on it—the passengers, flight attendants and pilots, including our own families and friends—deserve our best. When the MAX returns to the skies with the software changes to the MCAS function, it will be among the safest airplanes ever to fly,” the statement reads.