Ethiopian Airlines Crash Updates: Ethiopia to Send ‘Black Boxes’ Abroad for Analysis

• Ethiopia will send overseas for analysis the so-called black boxes — flight data and voice recorders — recovered from the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, in which 157 people were killed, an airline spokesman said on Wednesday.

• At least two pilots, flying United States routes on the same model of Boeing jet involved in two recent crashes, filed incident reports with the federal government that raised concerns about safety and criticized a lack of training on the new plane, the Boeing 737 Max 8.

• Citing safety concerns, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Vietnam closed their airspace to Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes on Wednesday, raising to 41 the number of nations that have barred the plane from operation. The European Union, China and India had previously banned all 737 Max 8 flights.

Ethiopia will ask a foreign country for help analyzing the flight data and voice recorders recovered from the wreckage of Flight 302, a spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday.

The spokesman, Asrat Begashaw, said the airline had not yet decided where to send the “black boxes,” which investigators believe are critical to determining the cause of Sunday’s crash.

“We have a range of options,” Mr. Begashaw told The Associated Press. “What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia.”

The two recorders will need to be taken to a specialized center to read their data, said Lynnette Dray, an aviation expert and senior research associate at University College London.

“If the boxes are intact, then they will be able to take the data off them and look at it immediately,” Dr. Dray said.

American air safety experts are trying to persuade their Ethiopian counterparts not to send the flight data to crash investigators in London, The Wall Street Journal reported. Instead, they want it examined by the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States.

At least two pilots who flew Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on routes in the United States had raised concerns in November about the noses of their planes suddenly dipping after engaging autopilot, according to a federal government database of incident reports.

The problems the pilots experienced appeared similar to those preceding the October crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia, in which 189 people were killed. The cause of that crash remains under investigation, but it is believed that inaccurate readings fed into the Max 8’s computerized system may have made the plane enter a sudden, automatic descent.

In both of the American cases, the pilots safely resumed their climbs after turning off autopilot. One of the pilots said the descent began two to three seconds after turning on the automated system.

“I reviewed in my mind our automation setup and flight profile but can’t think of any reason the aircraft would pitch nose down so aggressively,” the pilot wrote.

Norwegian Air, a low-cost airline that has one of the largest Max 8 fleets outside the United States, said it would seek compensation from Boeing after European regulators grounded the aircraft.

“It is obvious that the costs incurred by the temporary grounding of brand-new aircraft should be covered by those who have made the airplane,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Belying its name, Norwegian flies routes all over Europe and beyond. According to the airline’s website, flights to European destinations were running with moderate delays and a handful of cancellations.

In a message to passengers, the airline said that it had 18 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet of more than 160 planes.

In December, a technical error forced a Max 8 jet to land in Iran en route to Oslo from the United Arab Emirates. The jet was stranded at the Shiraz airport for months, apparently caught up in United States sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear program that prohibit civilian aircraft sales, including services and parts.

That jet returned to service but is now grounded, the airline said.

Nobody has grounded more Boeing 737 Max 8 jets than China. With its order on Monday that Chinese airlines idle their fleets of the beleaguered aircraft, 96 planes went out of commission.

How did that affect flying in China? Not a whole lot, even on the first day.

Chinese airline canceled 62 flights outright on Monday as a result of the grounding, according to VariFlight, an online tracking company. For another 288, it found substitute aircraft, while five flights were completed before the grounding took effect later on Monday.

While regulators in much of the world have ordered temporary groundings of the Boeing 737 Max 8 as a precautionary measure, the United Nations civil aviation agency said it would await definitive findings about what went wrong on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

“Once the final report into this accident is available we will have verified and official causes and recommendations to consider,” the agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“In the meantime ICAO recognizes the right of those national governments who may choose to act on the limited information currently available by taking immediate flight safety precautions regarding 737 Max 8 operations,” it said.

The agency, based in Montreal, manages the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the agreement that ensures safe and orderly air travel around the world. According to its website, the agency, which has sanction powers to enforce compliance with the convention, works with United Nations member states and industry groups “in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.”


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