Expected within days, the preliminary report on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will give "the strongest indication yet" that the Boeing 737 MAX's stall-prevention system was to blame, as suspected with the earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia. That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports investigators have reached the preliminary conclusion that the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System automatically activated before a nosedive. The Journal reports the information, based on the jet's black box recorders, was relayed during a Thursday briefing at the FAA. Ethiopia's Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges previously said black-box data showed "a clear similarity" between the two crashed flights, which claimed 346 lives in all.
The report is required within 30 days of the March 10 crash. The one produced following the October 29 crash of Lion Air Flight JT610 in Indonesia found a sensor failure caused MCAS to kick in and push the plane's nose down more than 24 times as pilots raced to rectify the issue, per CNN. Boeing has already updated the system to rely on data from two sensors, rather than just the one, though an official said Wednesday that several "thorough audits" since the Lion Air crash showed nothing of concern. Asked by the BBC about the Journal's reporting, Ethiopia's Ministry of Transport said it had seen the report and would "comment shortly." Meanwhile, family members of Rwandan citizen Jackson Musoni are the first to sue Boeing over the crash, per the Guardian. (Read more Ethiopian Airlines stories.)