Ethiopia crash probe advances with voice download, fresh details
* "He said he had a flight control problem" - source
* Too soon to know what caused the disaster-experts
* Pilot was a "rising star", hard-working-brother
* "His dream was to be a pilot"
* Boeing share price has tumbled
(Recasts with data download, air traffic control recording)
By Aaron Maasho, Leigh Thomas and Maggie Fick
ADDIS ABABA/PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - The hunt for the
cause of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed all 157
people on board gathered pace on Saturday when investigators
successfully downloaded the cockpit voice recorder and fresh
details emerged of the final seconds of the flight.
While experts say it is too soon to know what brought down
the Boeing 737 MAX 8 on March 10, aviation authorities worldwide
have grounded Boeing's 737 MAXs, as concerns over the plane
caused the company's share price to tumble.
In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic
control recording of the plane's communications said flight 302
had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane
reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.
A voice from the cockpit of the Boeing BA.N 737 MAX
requested to climb to 14,000 feet above sea level - about 6,400
feet above the airport - before urgently asking to return, the
source told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the
recording is part of an ongoing investigation.
The plane vanished from radar at 10,800 feet.
"He said he had a flight control problem. That is why he
wanted to climb," the source said, adding there were no further
details given of the exact problem and the voice sounded
Experts say pilots typically ask to climb when experiencing
problems near the ground in order to gain margin for manoeuvre
and avoid any difficult terrain. Addis Ababa is surrounded by
hills and, immediately to the north, the Entoto Mountains.
In Paris, France's BEA air accident investigation agency
said data from the jet's cockpit voice recorder has been
successfully downloaded. The French agency said in a tweet it
had not listened to the audio files and that the data had been
transferred to Ethiopian investigators.
The BEA also issued a photo showing the recorder intact but
dented by the impact of the plane's crash into a field minutes
after take-off from Addis Ababa.
"We are waiting for the results. We are making all the
necessary efforts to identify the cause of the accident,"
Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges told reporters in
"This kind of investigation needs considerable amount of
time to reach concrete conclusions".
The Ethiopian carrier said DNA testing of the remains of the
people on board flight 302 may take up to six months, and it
offered bereaved families charred earth from the plane crash
site to bury. Passengers from more than 30 nations were aboard.
Dagmawit said temporary death certificate had been given,
and a final one would be issued in two weeks time. Collection of
DNA samples from relatives had begun.
Victim identification would be done to scientific
international standards, and internationally-recognised
organisations such as Interpol were going to be involved in the
process, she said.
As families await results from the investigation, the
airline is planning to hold a service on Sunday in Addis Ababa,
at the Kidist Selassie, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, where many of
Ethiopia's past rulers are buried under its pink stone spires.
EARTH FROM THE CRASH SITE
"We were told by the company that we will be given a kilo
(of earth) each for burial at Selassie Church for a funeral they
will organise," said one family member who asked not to be
The return of remains - most of which are charred and
fragmented - would take up to six months, the papers said, but
in the meantime earth from the crash site would be given.
Around 100 relatives, including the brother and father of
pilot Yared Getachew, gathered at a memorial for the victims at
the Kenyan embassy.
"His dream was to be a pilot," said Meno Getachew Tessema,
39, Yared's brother. "He was diligent, hardworking, he had a
consistent work ethic. I would like to emphasize his record and
that he was a rising star at Ethiopian Airlines."
Flight data has already indicated some similarities with a
crash by the same model of plane during a Lion Air flight in
October. All 189 people onboard were killed. Both planes crashed
within minutes of take off after pilots reported problems.
The grounding of the 737 MAX jets has had no immediate
financial impact on airlines using the planes, but it will get
painful for the industry the longer they do not fly, companies
and analysts said on Friday.
Boeing plans to release upgraded software for the 737 MAX in
a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said.
The U.S. planemaker has been working on a software upgrade
for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its
fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air
(Additional reporting by Maggie Fick; Writing by Katharine
Houreld; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter, William
First Published: 2019-03-16 11:12:23
Updated 2019-03-16 22:43:15
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