The document reveals pilots had repeatedly reported to the Jakarta Air Traffic Control (ATC) the aircraft was experiencing "flight control problem" asking for the aircraft's altitude as they struggled to steady the plane. By that time, the investigators had already released an initial report of the accident, which relies heavily on flight data captured by the FDR.
Investigators suspect that incorrect sensor readings feeding into a new automated flight-control system may have played a role in the Indonesian crash, and the Ethiopian plane had a similar, erratic flight path.
The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize.
At the end of the same month, on November 28, Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) issued the preliminary accident report, using the data that was available at the time.
As the captain worked to keep the plane in the air, the jet's computer incorrectly sensed a stall and kept trying to push the plane's nose down.
Boeing's ill-fated 737 MAX and federal regulators next week will face the first public grilling by Congress over the two fatal plane crashes in recent months.
The captain, 31, was at the controls of Lion Air Flight JT610 when the almost new jet took off from Jakarta.
A different crew on the same plane the night before had the same problem, but solved it after running through three checklists. This week, the company named the chief engineer of its commercial airplanes division to lead the company's role in the investigations into the October 29 crash of the Lion Air jet and the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.
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The Europeans and Canadians want to do more than simply take the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's word that alterations to a key flight-control system will make the 737 Max safer.
Boeing previously said it planned a software upgrade. Like the Indonesian crash, the pilot of the plane in Ethiopia sent a distress call shortly after takeoff.
As the 31-year-old captain tried in vain to find the right procedure in the handbook, the 41-year-old first officer was unable to control the plane, two of the sources said. The Indian-born captain remained silent and the co-pilot uttered "Allahu Akbar", according to the account of the recording issued by Reuters.
The plane then hit the water, killing all 189 people on board.
A Boeing spokesman declined to comment but confirmed the authenticity of the email.
Rescuers work beside the wreckage of an Ethiopian Airlines' aircraft at the crash site, some 50 km east of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
Although the cause of the Lion Air crash has not been determined, a preliminary report mentioned the Boeing system, a faulty, recently replaced sensor and the airline's maintenance and training.
American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, which are slightly less dependent on the Max than Air Canada, are juggling their fleets to fill in for grounded planes, but those carriers have still canceled some flights.