A draft interim report by Ethiopian crash investigators circulated to US government agencies concludes the March 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX was caused by the aircraft’s design, people briefed on the matter said .
Unlike most interim reports, this one includes probable cause determination, conclusions and recommendations, typically not made until a final report is issued.
The US National Transportation Safety Board has been given an opportunity to lodge concerns or propose changes, the people said, declining to be identified because the report is not public.
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss confirmed the agency received the draft interim report, but declined to comment on whether the agency would suggest any changes. Boeing declined to comment to Reuters about the report.
According to Bloomberg News, which first reported the interim draft, the conclusions say little or nothing about the performance of Ethiopian Airlines or its flight crew and that raised concern with some participants in the investigation.
The Ethiopian interim report contrasts with a final report into the Lion Air crash released last October by Indonesia which faulted Boeing’s design of cockpit software on the 737 MAX as well as errors by airline workers and crew.
Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed in an open field six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa killing 157 passengers and crew. The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide for nearly a year after the two fatal crashes.
Under rules overseen by the UN’s Montreal-based aviation agency, ICAO, Ethiopia should publish a final report by the first anniversary of the crash on March 10. It now looks set to release an interim report with elements normally be included in the final report.
A preliminary accident report by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority released last April said faulty sensor readings and multiple automatic commands to push down the nose of an aircraft contributed to the fatal crash and left the crew struggling to regain control.
The US House Transportation Committee last week released preliminary investigative findings into the crashes which faulted the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the aircraft and Boeing’s design failures, saying the 737 MAX flights were “doomed”.