Boeing CEO acknowledges flight control system may be to blame in deadly crashes

Last Updated Apr 4, 2019 7:02 PM EDT

For the first time, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg has acknowledged that the flight control system on the 737 MAX may be to blame in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight as well as a crash in Indonesia last October. In total, 346 lives were lost.

“We’re deeply saddened by and we are sorry for the pain these accidents have caused worldwide,” Muilenburg said. “It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.”

The mea culpa followed the release of a preliminary report into the crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 that shows striking similarities to the Lion Air crash in October. Within 44 seconds of flight 302 taking off, a sensor malfunctioned, activating the anti-stall system MCAS two minutes into the flight. Twenty seconds later, it went off again, putting the plane into a dive.

New info about moments before Ethiopian Airlines crash raises questions

The pilots were able to pull up some before turning MCAS off as Boeing instructed. But it was too late. The plane was losing altitude and gaining speed and the pilots were not able to regain control of the plane.

About 30 seconds before the end, they turned the system back on. MCAS fired again, putting the plane into a 40 degree nose dive that reached 575 miles an hour.

“With an MCAS failure such as they suffered, the nose pitching down radically multiple times would create literally the most difficult situation I would imagine in an aircraft,” said pilot Anthony Roman.

Samya Stumo, 24, was one of the eight Americans on flight 302. Her family announced a lawsuit Thursday against Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“This is not an accident this is something that could have been prevented and should have been prevented,” said Nadia Milleron, her mother.

Boeing believes it has a software update that fixes the problems with MCAS but during testing found an issue with how the fix integrates with other systems. It will take a couple of weeks to fix before the FAA can consider approval.

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