Pilots of the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff in March performed all standard Boeing emergency procedures when the plane went into a nose dive, but they failed to control it, according to Ethiopia's preliminary report released Thursday.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which will approve whether the grounded Boeing 737 Max is safe before it can go back into the air, responded to the preliminary findings by emphasizing that the investigation is still in the early stages.
"The preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash was prepared by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) to share certain information obtained during the early stages of investigating. The ECAA investigation remains ongoing, with the participation of the FAA and the NTSB," the FAA statement said.
"We continue to work towards a full understanding of all aspects of this accident. As we learn more about the accident and findings become available, we will take appropriate action."
The statement did not specify whether the FAA would review the Max's flight control system, as Ethiopian investigators recommended. The Max has been grounded for over two weeks worldwide as Boeing works on a software fix.
The Ethiopian government's preliminary findings mark the first official investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash. The report, which was not released in full, assessed flight data and cockpit voice recorders on the aircraft. Investigators said the 737 Max had a valid certificate of airworthiness, and the flight crew had the necessary qualifications.
Investigators are looking into the FAA's role in the 737 Max certification after two separate crashes killed a total of 346 people.
The agency declined to ground the jet after the first crash in Indonesia in October, and was hesitant to ground the jets after the Ethiopia crash. Boeing is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and congressional committees.