A coroner has ruled that the three British citizens killed in the plane crash were unlawfully murdered.
Sam Pegram, Oliver Vick and Joanna Toole were among the 157 people killed on Ethiopia’s Boeing 737 Max airliner in 2019.
Lawyers for the family were seeking a wrongful murder verdict ahead of an inquest into the death of a loved one.
A court has ruled that flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Kenya crashed shortly after takeoff due to a design flaw.
A sensor failure in the flight control software designed to make the plane fly easier and more predictable caused it to deploy at the wrong time, sending the plane into a catastrophic dive.
Despite attempts by pilots to take control of the plane, it crashed in a remote farmland outside the Ethiopian capital.
West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield said the incident was the result of a series of failures related to the development and operation of flight control software known as MCAS.
She said two employees of the manufacturer deliberately misled regulators and operators of the 737 Max over the operation of safety-critical systems.
“Like losing a part of yourself”
An autopsy said Pegram’s parents described the 25-year-old humanitarian worker as a kind and caring person with an infectious sense of humor.
“He had a passion for human rights, but also a drive and inner strength to make a difference,” said his father Mark.
Toole’s father described how his daughter, a 36-year-old sustainability activist, had a “rare combination of animal and human empathy”.
The death of a child “is like losing a part of yourself,” he added.
A humanitarian activist, Vick was a devoted father to his daughters, according to his mother, Cheryl, who “had an unwavering focus on making the world a better place for as many people as possible.” It says.
Abdulkadir Qasim, a former Somali refugee who came to England at the age of 25, died in an accident while heading to Kenya to discuss a new job.
An autopsy was not conducted on his death, but in a video statement in court on Monday, his wife Kamal said how he was a “great husband and father”.
Her youngest son was a toddler at the time of the accident and could not remember his father, she said.
Before the Ethiopian accident, a similar malfunction caused another Boeing 737 Max to crash into the sea off Indonesia, killing 189 people.
The company later admitted responsibility for the loss of the plane, but an agreement with the US government granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for a $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion) fine and compensation.