Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn as a mechanical digger operates at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Ethiopia crash black boxes arrive in France for analysis

Sunday’s crash was the second fatal flight for a Boeing 737 Max 8 in less than six months

Flight data recorders from a doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight arrived in France for analysis Thursday as frustrated relatives of the 157 people killed stormed out of a meeting with airline officials in Addis Ababa.

Sunday’s crash was the second fatal flight for a Boeing 737 Max 8 in less than six months. More than 40 countries, including the U.S., have now grounded the planes or refused to let them into their airspace.

After holding out for several days, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order grounding the planes Wednesday, saying they had new satellite data and evidence that showed the movements of the Ethiopian Airlines plane were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610. That flight crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.

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.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said its pilots had received special training on how to deal with that problem.

“In addition to the basic trainings given for 737 aircraft types, an additional training was given for the Max version,” Tewolde said. “After the Lion Air crash, questions were raised, so Boeing sent further instructions that it said pilots should know.”

Tewolde said he is confident the investigation will reveal that the crash is not related to the safety record of Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as the best-managed in Africa.

Firm answers about what caused the crash could take months. The French air accident investigation authority, known by its French acronym BEA, said Thursday it will handle the analysis of the flight data recorders, often called black boxes, retrieved from the crash site.

The BEA has experience with global air crashes, and its expertise is often sought whenever an Airbus plane crashes because the manufacturer is based in France. A BEA official told The Associated Press that the recorders have already arrived in France but gave no time frame on how long the analysis could take.

In Addis Ababa, about 200 angry family members of crash victims left a briefing with Ethiopian Airlines officials, saying that the airline has not given them adequate information. Officials said they have opened a call-in centre that is open 18 hours a day to respond to questions, but family members said they are not getting the answers they need. People from 35 countries died.

At the crash scene in Hejere, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Addis Ababa, growing numbers of family members arrived, some wailing or beating their chests as a bulldozer navigated piles of debris. Blue plastic sheeting covered the wreckage of the plane.

READ MORE: Canada bans Boeing 737 Max 8 plane following fatal Ethiopian crash

READ MORE: Air Canada, WestJet expected to take financial hit from 737 Max 8 ban

The 737 Max was supposed to boost Boeing’s fortunes for years to come, but the groundings will have a far-reaching financial impact, at least in the short term, said John Cox, a veteran pilot and CEO of Safety Operating Systems. Boeing shares have dropped nearly 11 per cent since the crash, but are still up 17 per cent overall in 2019.

In addition to the planes that have been grounded, there are more than 4,600 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on backlog that have not yet been delivered to airlines. There are about 370 Max jets in circulation.

“There are delivery dates that aren’t being met, there’s usage of the aircraft that’s not being met, and all the supply chain things that Boeing so carefully crafted,” Cox said. “If they can’t deliver the airplanes, where do they put the extra engines and the extra fuselage and the extra electrical components?”

Impacted airlines also may come knocking on Boeing’s door claiming damages. Norwegian Airlines said it would pursue reimbursement from Boeing for lost business and if other carriers follow suit, that could be costly. Whether airlines would be successful with such claims depends on the details of the contracts those carriers have with Boeing, said Dan Rose, partner at Kreindler & Kreindler, an aviation law firm.

“One way or another, whether there’s a contractual provision that covers it or not, there are almost certainly going to be claims made against them,” Rose said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was under intense pressure to ground the planes and resisted even after Canada relented on Wednesday and agreed to bar the Max from the air, leaving the U.S. almost alone.

The agency, which prides itself on making data-driven decisions, had maintained there was nothing to show the Boeing jets were unsafe, and flights continued.

But President Donald Trump, who announced the grounding, was briefed that same day on new developments by acting FAA administrator Daniel Elwell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and they determined the planes should be grounded, the White House said. Trump spoke afterward with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg and Boeing signed on.

“At the end of the day, it is a decision that has the full support of the secretary, the president and the FAA as an agency,” Elwell said.

Boeing issued a statement saying it supported the FAA’s decision even though it “continues to have full confidence” in the planes’ safety.

The company also said it had recommended the suspension of the Max fleet after consultations with the government.

U.S. airlines, mainly Southwest, American and United, should be able to swap out planes pretty quickly, and passengers shouldn’t be terribly inconvenienced, said Paul Hudson, president of flyersrights.org, which represents passengers. The Max, he said, makes up only a small percentage of the U.S. passenger jet fleet.

“I think any disruptions will be very minor,” he said.

Major disruptions have not been reported in other countries where the Max has been grounded.

___

Angela Charlton in Paris, Tom Krisher in Detroit, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Zeke Miller in Washington, Manuel Valdes in Seattle, and Cathy Bussewitz and Alexandra Olson in New York contributed to this story.

Elias Meseret And Yidnek Kirubel, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Delays en route for Highway 7 in Harrison Mills

Road resurfacing will cause month-long delays for drivers travelling through Harrison Mills

The luckiest man in Agassiz finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Missing Chilliwack man not heard from since January

Kristopher Shawn Couture, 25, last made contact with family from Edmonton

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Body found after fire at Surrey homeless camp, police say

Surrey RCMP say the body was found inside a shed after firefighters extinguished the fire

RCMP probe hit-and-run of Richmond senior

The man, who is in his mid-70s, was walking with his wife when he was allegedly struck

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Coquitlam crash kills one person, injured two others

Investigators with the RCMP criminal crash unit are working to determing the cause of the incident

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Vancouver man in serious condition after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

The man, 40, remains in hospital after a Thursday collision. Police believe speed was a factor

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read