Air crash investigators have started analyzing the black box data recorder from Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, amid reports that the plane error suggested similarities with a previous disaster involving the Boeing 737 Max jet.
plane and air traffic control, in which the pilot is said to have asked in panic tones to turn back three minutes into the flight, as the 737 Max dipped and climbed.
The black box recorder, which arrived in Paris showing some external damage, is being reviewed by French aviation experts at the request of Ethiopian Airlines. French authorities said it was unclear what data could be retrieved to light on Sunday's crash, which killed 1
Evidence gathered by investigators at the scene of the crash, according to two sources cited by Reuters, includes a piece of the plane's stabilizer, which was set in an unusual position – potentially suggesting similarities with the Lion Air crash off Jakarta in October. Inquiries in Indonesia have focused on how an automated system used the stabilizer to pitch the nose down, against the pilots' commands. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing declined to comment on the claims.
The captain of Ethiopian flight 302, Yared Getachew, reported a "flight control" problem in a calm voice, before asking for return in panicked tones three minutes after takeoff, according to the New York Times. The newspaper, citing a source who had reviewed the communications from flight 302, said the pilot customs controllers: "Break break, request back to home."
The 737 Max jet initially dipped below the safe flight path, and then, after climbing, flew at erratic height and speed. Controllers noticed the plane was moving up and down by hundreds of feet.
When grounding the 737 Max model on Wednesday, the FAA said new data from satellite-based tracking showed similarities between the planes' erratic movements in both crashes. Boeing has reiterated its "full confidence" in the safety of the plane, although its engineers are making changes to the software in the Lion Air crash.
Ethiopian Airlines said it had been trained on procedures to deal with the 737 Max's anti-stall system, which was the subject of an emergency notification by regulators after the Lion Air crash. Pilots in the US have expressed fury that Boeing has not already highlighted system changes that could affect the plane's behavior.
Delivery of the new plane, with almost 5,000 models still on order, has been paused, although Boeing is continuing production. Russian carrier Aeroflot said on Friday it may cancel its order for 20 plans. Air Canada, which planned to expand from 24 to 36 737 Max planes in its fleet this year, customs investors were suspending its financial forecasts without the more fuel-efficient jets.
In Ethiopia, officials have taken DNA samples from families of the victims to assist in identifying remains. The 157 people who died came from 35 countries, including nine from the UK. At the crash site in Hejere, about 30 miles from Addis Ababa, search teams continued to pick through the debris, with the plane's wreckage covered by blue plastic sheeting.
Relatives were still waiting for news on when identification of remains would begin, and subsequent repatriation. Faysal Hussein, an Ethiopian citizen whose cousin was killed, told the Associated Press: We were taken to the crash site on Wednesday but not allowed to get a closer look. ”
Pauline Gathu, a Kenyan who lost her brother, said:“ We were expecting that we will have our body well-kept but we are We don't have words, we don't know what to do. ”