Ethiopia: Families Visit Ethiopian Airlines Crash Site

Sergio Conner
March 15, 2019

A screw-like device found in the wreckage of the Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed Sunday in Ethiopia has provided investigators with an early clue into what happened, as work begins in France to decode the black boxes recovered from the scene.

The FAA said on Wednesday a software upgrade being worked on following the Lion Air crash would take months to complete.

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

And then yesterday Ethiopian Airlines officials called us to a meeting but they don't have anything to say.

"I can't find you!"

Officials at Lion Air have said sensors on their plane produced erroneous information on its last four flights, triggering an automatic nose-down command that the pilots were unable to overcome on its final voyage.

Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 371 MAX models in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching planes.

Another almost 5,000 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry.

French authorities have the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, though Ethiopia is formally leading the investigation and US experts are in Paris and Addis Ababa too.

The information that black boxes contain helps explain 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

"We were expecting that we will have our body well-kept but we are amazed to hear that there is nothing, totally nothing", she said.

The still unexplained crash, just after take-off from Addis Ababa, followed another disaster involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people.

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Though it maintains the planes are safe, Boeing has supported the FAA move.

Parallels between the twin disasters have frightened travellers worldwide and wiped billions of dollars off Boeing (BA.N) stock.

It is unclear how long the Boeing aircraft will be grounded.

Lebanon and Kosovo barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from their airspace, and Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing after grounding its fleet.

Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg said he supported the U.S. decision "out of an abundance of caution" but had "full confidence" in the safety of the plane.

A Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is in hangar before the inspection at Garuda Maintenance Facility at Soekarno Hatta airport, Jakarta.

Lion Air has not yet decided whether to cancel the order for 737 MAX, Putut said.

But President Donald Trump, who announced the grounding, was briefed that same day on new developments by Elwell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and they determined the planes should be grounded, the White House said.

The source who spoke to the American investigators also reported being told that the crash site in Hejere had been ransacked by locals before it was secured.

Askhara said his airline had chose to reduce the order from 49 "before the crashes".

There is a small pool of countries including Britain, France, the United States, Canada and Australia that are seen as leading investigators. But only France and the United States have the experience gleaned from being present at nearly every crash involving an Airbus or Boeing respectively.

The pilot of Flight 302 had reported internal control problems and received permission to return, before the plane came down and burst into a fireball on arid farmland. They were at least able to vent their grief.

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