Boeing Co. (BA - Get Report) shares rose Tuesday following a report that suggested the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which killed 157 people and triggered a global grounding of the planemaker's 737 MAX jets, may have been linked to a bird collision.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a Boeing executive, Mike Sinnett, raised the issue of a bird strike triggering a sensor that sent faulty data to pilots, during a meeting with American Airlines, and that U.S. officials are starting to believe a version of that scenario. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremarian, however, has consistently stated that there was no such strike, and that his pilots acted in accordance with Boeing's stated guidelines.
Last month, Boeing officially acknowledged for the first time that its software system played a role in two recent deadly 737 MAX 8 accidents. The planemaker said the preliminary report into the cause of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302's fatal crash, as well as the Lion Air 610 disaster in Indonesia in early October, which took the lives of 189 people, were caused by activation of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, in response to "erroneous angle of attack information" from a broken sensor.
Boeing vowed to correct the cause of the tragic incidents while recognizing the "devastation of the families and friends of the loved ones who perished."
Boeing shares were up 0.7% to $355.18, a move that would trim the stock's decline since the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 to about 15%.
Boeing is closer to having the 737 MAX re-certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration after completing the overhaul of its flight software system last week. Boeing said the MCAS software update, which includes 360 hours of testing over more than 200 flights, will soon include detail on how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different flight scenarios.
Boeing will then schedule certification test flights with the FAA in the hopes of bringing the aircraft back into full service, while the Agency will meet update global regulators on the certification processes during a meeting in Fort Worth, Texas on May 23.