Ethiopian official says 737 Max plane crash report due this week

The FAA certified the Boeing 737 Max jet in 2017 and let it keep flying after a deadly crash in October in Indonesia that investigators believe may be related to a new flight-control system that pushed the plane's nose down repeatedly.

On Monday, Ethiopian Airlines' CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the pilots who flew the plane that crashed on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, had trained on "all appropriate simulators", rejecting reports that they had not been adequately prepared to handle the new aircraft.

Southwest Airlines flight 1117 from St. Louis lands at Boston Logan International Airport on March 13, 2019.

In a statement at the time, the EASA said: "Following the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of passengers".

The airline's decision comes almost two weeks after the FAA grounded Boeing's Max 8 and Max 9 models, which were pulled from service following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157.

Investigators have drawn similarities between the flight data from that crash and the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month that killed 157 people.

Ethiopian and French investigators have pointed to "clear similarities" between the two crashes, putting pressure on Boeing and US regulators to come up with an adequate fix.

Officials from across the aviation world will convene at Boeing's sprawling production facility outside of Seattle Wednesday as the company tries to restore industry confidence in its safety protocols and the airworthiness of its signature plane, which was downed twice under apparently similar circumstances in the past six months.

Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell will tell Wednesday's Senate Commerce subcommittee that the agency's oversight approach must "evolve" following the crashes, according to written testimony viewed by Reuters. The company is expected to outline changes to software that controls a system created to automatically prevent a mid-flight stall. It was the second fatal crash involving the airplane model in the past five months.

"The traveling public needs assurances that the FAA will only recertify the aircraft for flight if and when the FAA, outside safety and technical experts, and pilots agree the aircraft is safe to fly", DeFazio (D-Ore.) said.

Southwest 8701, which was occupied by a pair of pilots and no passengers, took off from Orlando just before 3 p.m. local time, a spokesperson for the airline told Global News.

A Boeing spokesman said the company was "aware of the incident and supporting our customer".

United States airlines are allowed to shuttle the planes but can not carry passengers.

"In all cases pilots continue to have the ability to manually override MCAS and manually control the aircraft", he said.

He said the committee needs to understand what happened with the crashes, how the FAA determined that the Max was airworthy, and "take action to keep something like these tragic crashes from occurring again".

The system created to down the plane's nose, when it reaches beyond normal angles of attack, is one of the main suspected reasons that led to the two crashes of 737 MAX planes over the last half a year.

The Federal Aviation Administration delegates much of the work of airplane certification to manufacturers such as Boeing under a decades-old process.

  • Jon Douglas