Anti-Stalling System Linked to Ethiopian Plane Crash

Miguel Moreno
By Miguel Moreno
March 31, 2019US News
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Anti-Stalling System Linked to Ethiopian Plane Crash
Ground crew chat near a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane operated by Shanghai Airlines parked on tarmac at Hongqiao airport in Shanghai, China, on March 12, 2019. (AP Photo)

The anti-stalling system of the Ethiopian Airlines’s Boeing has been linked to the death of its 157 passengers, according to BBC. Shortly after taking off, the plane’s nose pitched down, crashing six minutes after it had reached 450 feet above ground.

Ethiopian and United States investigations of the crash found that before the tragedy, the automatic anti-stall system had been activated. The same Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was also found to have contributed to the doomed Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia last year and is believed to have pushed the plane’s nose down toward the earth.

The Lion Air crash involved the same type of aircraft: Boeing 737 Max-8. That crash resulted in 189 deaths. Investigators found that the Lion Air plane’s nose dived toward earth various times when the anti-stall system malfunctioned, according to BBC. Ethiopian authorities have said there is a connection between the two accidents; however, authorities and airlines have not commented on those details.

Redesigning the Software

Software has since been redesigned for the Boeing 737 Max-8. MCAS will now be disabled if the plane’s sensors receive conflicting data.

According to BBC, the two crashed planes did not have alert systems that warned the pilots of contradictory readings. The software update will ensure that MCAS will not interfere when the pilot tries to take control of the plane.

Though upgrades are being made to the system, it has not been confirmed that MCAS was responsible for the crashes.

Ethiopian Airlines Crash

The March 10 Ethiopian Airlines flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 a.m.

“The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return,” Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam told a news conference.

After the crash, the airline tweeted alongside a picture of Tewolde holding up a piece of debris inside a large crater at the crash site,“There are no survivors.”

Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, Tewolde said.

The dead included Kenyan, Ethiopian, American, Canadian, French, Chinese, Egyptian, Swedish, British, Dutch, Indian, Slovakian, Austrian, Swedish, Russian, Moroccan, Spanish, Polish, and Israeli citizens.

At least four worked for the United Nations, the airline said, and the U.N.’s World Food Program director confirmed his organization had lost staff in the accident.

Weeping relatives begged for information at airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

“We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone,” Wendy Otieno said as she was clutching her phone and weeping.

The 737 is the world’s best selling modern passenger aircraft and is seen as one of the industry’s most reliable, and the two 737 MAX 8 planes involved in the recent crashed were based on earlier 737 designs.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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