Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 6 News List

French investigators to examine Ethiopian Air data

Reuters, WASHINGTON, PARIS and ADDIS ABABA

Men unload a case from an Ethiopian embassy diplomatic vehicle outside the headquarters of the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety in Le Bourget, France, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

French investigators were yesterday to begin analyzing data from the black boxes of the Boeing 737 MAX jetliner that crashed after takeoff from Addis Ababa killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving the aircraft since October last year.

Experts will be looking for any links between the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday last week and the October crash of a 737 MAX operated by Lion Air in Indonesia that killed 189 people.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all MAX jets in service because of similarities between the two crashes.

Boeing said that it had paused deliveries of its fastest-selling aircraft built at its factory near Seattle, but continues to produce the single-aisle version of the jet at full speed while dealing with the worldwide fleet’s grounding.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers and left the world’s biggest planemaker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were on Thursday handed over to the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety.

Technical analysis was to begin yesterday and the first conclusions could take several days.

US lawmakers on Thursday said that the 737 MAX fleet would be grounded for weeks, if not longer, until a software upgrade could be tested and installed.

Boeing has said that it would roll out the software improvement “across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.”

The captain of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 requested permission to return to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport three minutes after takeoff as it accelerated to abnormal speed, the New York Times reported.

All contact between air traffic controllers and Flight ET302 to Nairobi was lost five minutes after it took off, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told the newspaper.

Within a minute of the flight’s departure, captain Yared Getachew reported a “flight control” problem as the aircraft was well below the minimum safe height during a climb, the newspaper said, citing the person.

After being cleared by the control room to turn back, Flight ET302 climbed to an unusually high altitude and disappeared from radar over a restricted military zone, it said.

Relatives of the dead on Thursday stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.

“I can’t find you! Where are you?” one Ethiopian woman said, draped in traditional white mourning shawl, as she held a framed portrait of her brother in the charred and debris-strewn field.

Nations, including an initially reluctant US, have suspended the 371 aircraft in operation, although airlines have been largely coping by switching flights to other airplanes in their fleets.

Nearly 5,000 737 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry.

“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.

Boeing would maintain its production rate of 52 aircraft per month, of which the MAX, its newest version, represents the major share.

However, Boeing declined to break out exact numbers.

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