‘Clear similarities’ between Boeing 737 crashes in Ethiopia, Indonesia: official

on Mar17
by | Comments Off on ‘Clear similarities’ between Boeing 737 crashes in Ethiopia, Indonesia: official |

2019-03-17 15:09:22

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Preliminary information from the flight data recorder of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed a week ago and killed 157 people shows “clear similarities” with an earlier disaster involving the same kind of Boeing aircraft in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister said Sunday.

The disclosure came as thousands marched in the capital of Addis Ababa, accompanying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for the Ethiopian victims of Flight 302. The caskets were empty because authorities have said that recovering and identifying the remains will take months.

The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — have prompted the United States and other countries to ground the aircraft.

One transportation expert says the reputation of Chicago-based Boeing has been hurt, but he said the company should still be able to fix the problem and recover.

The flight recorders from Flight 302 that went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa for Nairobi were recovered “in a good condition that enabled us to extract almost all the data inside,” Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters.

Information collected so far from the flight data recorder has indicated “clear similarities” between both crashes, she said. Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were sent to Paris for analysis by the French air accident investigation agency BEA.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration already has said satellite-based tracking data showed that the movements of Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed off Indonesia, killing 189 people.

Both planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.

RELATED: Boeing likely to face questions after latest 737 crash

Suspicions emerged that faulty sensors and software may have contributed to the crashes.

Moges said the Ethiopian government intends to release detailed findings within a month.

In a statement, Boeing said it supports the investigation and is finalizing a software update and new pilot training to address the issue while investigators work toward “definitive conclusions.”

“Boeing’s reputation’s been hurt, and that will cost it plenty,” said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.

But the problem seems to revolve around sensors and software. That means Boeing should be able to solve the problem, Schwieterman said. He said he didn’t think the public confidence has been undermined enough to keep people off the planes once they’ve been cleared to fly again.

At the memorial service earlier in the day, some of the relatives who marched behind the flag-draped coffins were overcome with grief and fainted.

The service came one day after officials began delivering bags of scorched earth from the crash site to family members of the victims because of the problems with identifying the remains.

Family members said they were given a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) sack of dirt from the crash site. Many relatives already have gone to the dusty field outside Addis Ababa where the plane went down to pay their respects.

Mourner Elias Bilew said he had worked with one of the victims, Sintayehu Shafi, for the past eight years.

“He was such a good person,” Bilew said. “He doesn’t deserve this. He was the pillar for his whole family.”

Contributing: AP writer Angela Charlton in Paris.



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