Software malfunctions linked to fatal crashes in Ethiopia, Indonesia


Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 went down shortly after departing Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, killing all 157 people on board on March 10, 2019.

The New York Times reported on March 9 last year that investigators in Ethiopia concluded that the crash was caused by design flaws in the Boeing 737 Max plane and not by the performance of the airline or its pilots.

The crash occurred five months after a similar Max plane owned by Lion Air of Indonesia crashed minutes after takeoff, killing 189 people.

Several factors have been cited in the two crashes, but malfunctions related to an automated software – the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System – were key in both accidents.


The Boeing 737 owned by the low-cost airline Lion Air went down after taking off from the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Oct 29, 2018.

Flight JT 610 was headed for the western city of Pangkal Pinang. Rescuers recovered some bodies and personal items, including baby shoes, the BBC had reported then.

The plane was due to arrive at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang an hour later, but 13 minutes into the flight, the authorities lost contact with it.

There were no signs of survivors. The cause of the crash, which involved a plane that had been in operation since August that year, remains unclear.

The incident is reported to be the first major accident involving a Boeing 737 Max – an updated version of the 737.

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