Ethiopian Airlines black boxes show similarities to Lion Air crash-ministry
* Both crashes involved Boeing 737 MAX 8s
* In both cases pilots reported flight control problems
* Ethiopian plane plunged into field shortly after take off
* Aviation authorities worldwide grounded the model
* For a FACTBOX on the crash click on
(Adds background, Boeing CEO)
By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher
ADDIS ABABA/PARIS, March 17 (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on
Sunday the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157
people had "clear similarities" with October's Lion Air crash,
according to initial analysis of the black boxes recovered from
the wreckage of the March 10 disaster.
Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and both crashed
minutes after take-off after pilots reported flight control
problems. Concern over the plane's safety caused aviation
authorities worldwide to ground the model, wiping billions of
dollars off Boeing's market value.
Investigators are trying to determine why the aircraft
plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa,
searching for possible similarities to an October Lion Air crash
that killed 189 people.
"It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one.
There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far,"
Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said.
"The data was successfully recovered. Both the American team
and our (Ethiopian) team validated it. The minister thanked the
French government. We will let you know more after three or four
days," he told Reuters.
In Washington, however, U.S. officials told Reuters that the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. National
Transportation Safety Board have not validated the data yet.
When investigators, after reviewing black box data, return
to Addis Ababa and start conducting interpretive work, the NTSB
and FAA will assist in verification and validation of the data,
an official said.
A second source said little information had been circulated
between parties about the contents of data and voice recordings.
It was not clear how many of the roughly 1,800 parameters of
flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the
doomed 6-minute fight and earlier trips, had been taken into
account as part of the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.
It is not unknown for the broad reasons for a crash to be
understood in the hours after data has been recovered, but
experts say fuller analysis is usually needed too.
The crash has generated one of the most widely watched and
high-stakes probes for years, with the latest version of
Boeing's profitable 737 workhorse depending on the outcome.
Previous accident reports show that in such high-profile
cases there can be disagreements among parties about the cause.
In Paris, France's BEA air accident investigation agency
said data from the jet's cockpit voice recorder had 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.
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.
Under international rules, a preliminary report on the crash
must be released within 30 days.
The Seattle Times reported that Boeing's safety analysis of
a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial
The analysis of the system called MCAS (Maneuvering
Characteristics Augmentation System) understated the power of
this system, the Seattle Times said, citing current and former
engineers at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA also did not delve into any detailed inquiries and
followed a standard certification process on the MAX, the
Seattle Times reported citing an FAA spokesman.
The FAA declined to comment on the report but referred to
previous statements about the certification process. It has said
the 737-MAX certification process followed the FAA's standard
The report also said both Boeing and the FAA were informed
of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11
days ago, before the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX last
Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. The same model flown
by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October,
killing all 189 on board.
Last Monday Boeing said it would deploy a software upgrade
to the 737 MAX 8, a few hours after the FAA said it would
mandate "design changes" in the aircraft by April.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, in a statement on
Sunday after the Ethiopian transport ministry's comments, said
Boeing was finalising the sofware change and a training revision
and would evaluate new information as it became available.
A Boeing spokesman said 737 MAX was certified in accordance
with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have
governed certification of all previous new airplanes and
derivatives. The spokesman said the FAA concluded that MCAS on
737 MAX met all certification and regulatory requirements.
In Addis Ababa, aviation staff gathered at Bole
International Airport to remember the two pilots and six crew,
who perished along with the 149 passengers.
Weeping women held single stems in their shaking hands.
Banks of the white flowers, the traditional colour of mourning,
were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.
For a FACTBOX on what we know about the Boeing 737 MAX crash
and what comes next, click on
(Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Gaurika Juneja, Tim
Hepher, Tracy Rucinski, Editing by William Maclean)
First Published: 2019-03-17 20:58:43
Updated 2019-03-17 22:59:54
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