Boeing 737 Max 8 black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines flight crash sent to France for examination




 

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders from doomed Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 arrived in Paris on Thursday where French aviation authorities were tasked with probing the black boxes for clues to the tragedy.

France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, or BEA, said there was no immediate information on the condition of the recorders. Preliminary information could take several days to extract, the agency said.

Sunday's crash, which killed all 157 aboard, was the second crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in five months. In October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in the Java Sea 12 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 people aboard perished.

The Ethiopian Accident Investigation Authority sought foreign investigators to handle the analysis due to the sophisticated software involved. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam had previously suggested that a European agency might be selected over U.S. aviation authorities "in the interest of proximity and in the interest of speed."

German aviation authorities had declined a request to handle the boxes, saying its technology was not designed for the new type of recorder used on the 737 MAX jets.

On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said the flight path data of two airliners in the moments prior to the crashes showed similarities.

The Ethiopian and Lion Air flights crashed after drastic speed fluctuations during ascent. Both pilots made ill-fated efforts to return to their airport of origin after takeoff.

The FAA issued an emergency order temporarily grounding the planes in the United States, the last nation where they were being flown after Sunday's crash. Boeing then formally recommended all 371 planes around the world be parked.

Daniel Elwell, acting head of the FAA, said the data linked the behavior and flight path of the Ethiopian Airline jet to data from the crash of the Lion Air jet.

"Evidence we found on the ground made it even more likely that the flight path was very close to Lion Air's," Elwell said Wednesday. Before the FAA announcement, President Donald Trump issued an emergency order halting flights of the MAX 8 and MAX 9.

Elwell also dismissed claims that the recent partial shutdown of the U.S. government had delayed software upgrades for Max 8 planes developed after the Lion Air disaster. Those upgrades are scheduled for completion by month's end, Elwell said.

Southwest Airlines, which operates more of the jets than any other domestic carrier, said its 34 Max 8 jets account for less than 5 percent of daily flights. The airline said it is offering "flexible" ticketing policies and that passengers booked on canceled flights can rebook at no additional cost.

The United States had been under pressure to join nations worldwide in grounding the planes after concerns mounted that the Ethiopian crash was similar to one in October. Wednesday, Canada joined the list of countries that halted the flights.

More: President Donald Trump says US has grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 after crashes

The MAX fleet began flying two years ago and includes 74 domestic planes. Airlines have ordered more than 4,500 of the jetliners, the newest version of the 737 and best-selling airliner ever.

Garuda, the national airline of Indonesia, is considering canceling its order for 20 Boeing 737 MAX planes, CEO Ari Askhara said Thursday.

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At least one airline wants compensation from Boeing for the cost of parking the jets. Norwegian Air Shuttles spokeswoman Tonje Naess said the carrier, which flies 18 of the planes, should not face "any financial burden for a brand new aircraft that will not to be used." It was not immediately clear what those costs might be or what Boeing might be pressed to pay.

Records show that federal aviation authorities received at least 11 reports concerning perceived safety problems with the aircraft. Two pilots reported their planes unexpectedly pitched nose down after they engaged autopilot following departure. Another pilot reported a "temporary level off" triggered by the aircraft automation.

The pilot of a flight in November 2018 called part of the aircraft's flight manual "inadequate and almost criminally insufficient."

From the flight manual: Why pilots have complained about the 737 MAX 8

The plane involved in Sunday's crash was delivered to the airline in November, had flown 1,200 hours and had undergone a maintenance check Feb. 4. The pilot, who had more than 8,000 hours of flight experience, had issued a distress call and tried to return to the airport.

Contributing: Chris Woodyard; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boeing 737 Max 8 black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines flight crash sent to France for examination

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