Investigators into the Boeing 737 crash which killed 157 people have reached an early conclusion that an anti-stall system was activated before the passenger plane hit the group.
Early findings from the “black box” recorders have been shared with US media, with a preliminary report expected from Ethiopian investigators within days.
This isn’t the first time safety issues have been raised about Boeing’s fastest-selling 737 MAX jet.
Investigators into a deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia in October have also focussed on the new anti-stall system, called MCAS.
Boeing is preparing to submit final paperwork to US regulators for a software upgrade to the anti-stall countermeasure on the 737 MAX which investigators said in a preliminary report repeatedly pushed the nose down on the Lion Air flight.
“Boeing defectively designed a new flight control system for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that automatically and erroneously pushes the aircraft’s nose down”
Lawyers representing passenger Jackson Musoni
All 189 passengers and crew were killed when the Boeing 737 Flight JT-610 came down shortly after taking off from the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
On Wednesday, Boeing said a planned software fix would prevent repeated operation of the system that is at the centre of safety concerns.
All 737 MAX jets have been grounded across the world by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
But airlines are still allowed to fly the planes without passengers to move them to other airports.
Nine Brits were among the casualties when flight ET 302 came down 38 miles southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The plane had just taken off from the city’s Bole International Airport at 8.38am (5.44am GMT) on March 10 when it crashed six minutes later near the town of Bishoftu.
No one on board the plane — which was heading to the Kenyan capital Nairobi — survived the crash.
On Thursday, it was revealed Boeing is being sued by the family of one of the passengers onboard the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Lawyers representing Jackson Musoni from Rwanda filed a suit in a federal court in Chicago.
The complaint claims: “The subject accident occurred because, among other things, Boeing defectively designed a new flight control system for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that automatically and erroneously pushes the aircraft’s nose down, and because Boeing failed to warn of the defect.”
A spokeswoman for Boeing declined to comment in court.
After the FAA grounded all 737 MAX jets in the days following the Ethiopia crash, the manufacturer insisted it still had “full confidence” in the plane.