Boeing responds to Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash findings

A preliminary investigation finds that the flight control system known as MCAS was unintentionally activated.

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Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX planes are parked on the tarmac after being grounded.

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Boeing on Thursday said it will take any and all steps necessary to improve the safety of its aircraft after the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau issued a preliminary report on its inquiry into the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.

"I'd like to reiterate our deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the accident," Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a release. "Understanding the circumstances that contributed to this accident is critical to ensuring safe flight. We will carefully review the AIB's preliminary report, and will take any and all additional steps necessary to enhance the safety of our aircraft."

The preliminary report, released Thursday, indicates the plane had "an erroneous angle of attack sensor input" that activated a flight control system called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, on the Boeing 737 Max 8, according to the release. The system pushes the 737 Max's nose down when it determines that the aircraft is about to stall. This is similar to what investigators looking into the Lion Air crash found, according to the release.

On March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second deadly crash in recent months involving Boeing's new 737 Max 8 plane. 

The Ethiopian authorities' preliminary findings showed the plane's crew followed Boeing guidance on how to operate the aircraft, including emergency procedures, but were unable to regain control, reported CBS News. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

Boeing 737 Max planes remain grounded around the world. Boeing on Thursday reiterated that it will release a software update for the MCAS system and provide more training and education on the 737 Max.

Originally published April 4, 10:43 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:57 a.m.: Adds more background on Boeing 737 Max.