According to a Bloomberg report, the extra pilot managed to diagnose the problem and disabled a malfunctioning flight-control system which averted disaster.
What investigators really draw attention to in the report is the airspeed and altitude issues the very same aircraft (PK-LQP) experienced during its four previous flights, particularly the one that preceded the day of the crash.
After the Lion Air crash, two USA pilots' unions said the potential risks of the system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, hadn't been sufficiently spelled out in their manuals or training.
Muilenburg said a software upgrade for the 737 MAX aircraft that the planemaker started in the wake of October's deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia was coming "soon".
The likelihood is that the MCAS was involved in the recent crashes of both the Ethiopian and the Lion Air aircraft.
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. They will likely be asked why the regulator agreed to certify the MAX planes in March 2017 without requiring extensive additional training.
The Senate hearing, at an unspecified date, would be the first time that a US congressional committee has called Boeing executives to appear for questioning about 737 MAX passenger plane crashes in October in Indonesia and March 10 in Ethiopia.
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"Of course, when that software change is ready, which is in a number of weeks, we will, in Canada, even if it's certified by the FAA, we will do our own certification", Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said.
"We will fully cooperate in the review in the Department of Transportation's audit", Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said in an email.
A Senate subcommittee announced Wednesday that it will hold a public hearing on the Max crashes and airline safety on March 27, led by Sen.
It noted it was unusual for federal prosecutors to investigate details of regulatory approval or to use a "criminal probe" to delve into dealings between the FAA and Boeing.
The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing.
The preliminary report into the Lion Air crash mentioned the Boeing system as well as other factors, including the airline's maintenance.
The Lion Air flight's cockpit voice recorded on display.