Boeing 737 Max anti-stall system activated before Ethiopia crash
Investigators say the MCAS anti-stall system was activated before the deadly Ethiopia Airlines crash that killed all 157 on board.
ADDIS ABABA — Details of the final moments of the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight have begun to emerge, with investigators believing the plane's anti-stall system contributed to the disaster.
According to the BBC, findings reported in the Wall Street Journal show that Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 had been 450 feet or 137 meters above ground when the aircraft's nose began to pitch down.
A pilot was heard saying 'pitch up, pitch up!' before their radio died.
The BBC reports that the aircraft, which was carrying 157 people, crashed just six minutes into its flight, killing everyone on board.
According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators have determined that the anti-stall system on the 737 Max 8 jet automatically activated before the crash.
The New York Time reports that the controversial MCAS anti-stall system takes readings from one of two angle of attack sensors on the plane that aligns itself with oncoming airflow.
If it detects that the plane is pointed up at a dangerous angle, it automatically swivels the horizontal stabilizer and pushes the nose down to prevent stalling.
The same software is being blamed for the deadly Lion Air crash that killed 187 in Indonesia.
According to the BBC, the Lion Air investigation suggested that MCAS malfunctioned, and forced the plane's nose down over 20 times before it plunged into the sea.
The Guardian reports that Ethiopian Airlines officials and Ethiopia's transport minister have previously said that their 737 jet flew in a similar pattern to the Lion Air plane.
Two safety features could have kept the MCAS in check: the angle of attack indicator displays readings from both sensors, and the disagree light activates when the sensors' data do not match. However, both were sold as optional extras and not included on the crashed planes.
According to the BBC, the company has since announced that it will make the disagree light standard on all new 737 aircrafts, and will be redesigning the software to disable MCAS if the sensors receive conflicting data.
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