Boeing admits its MCAS software could 'increase pressure' on pilots

Boeing has admitted that erroneous activation of its MCAS software used on the 737 MAX aircraft could increase pressure on pilots.

The admission comes as the airline has had legal action filed against it by a grieving family.

In a statement, CEO Dennis Muilenburg said feedback from pilots has reported the issue can add more work to an already high workload environment.

"It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it," he said.

The statement from Boeing came just hours after the preliminary report into the Ethiopian Airlines crash was released.

The report says the captain, Yared Getachew, cried "pull up", before the aircraft and the 157 people onboard plunged into a field six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

The March 10 crash has strong similarities with a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October last year, which also involved Boeing 737 MAX 8 and killed all 189 passengers and crew.

As a result of the crashes happening within close succession, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet was grounded worldwide.

Boeing will be keen for some answers and wanting to get its 737 programme back on track, with future orders for the aircraft totalling US$500 billion.

The financial cost to Boeing may get even higher as the family of an American who was killed onboard the Ethopian Airlines crash filing a lawsuit against the company this week.

The complaint was filed in Chicago by the parents of Samya Stumo, who died in the crash.

Lawyers for the Stumo family have also filed a federal claim against the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the Ethiopian crash. 

The complaint accuses Boeing of putting "profits over safety" and claims the FAA must also be held accountable for certifying the 737 MAX.

Chicago-based Boeing, which is also the target of legal action over the Lion Air crash, has been working on a software fix and new training guidelines for the MAX.