The black box from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines that could solve the mystery of the crash has arrived in Paris for investigation today.
The contents of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder are expected to provide critical details about what caused the disaster that left 157 dead on Sunday.
This afternoon, the grieving family of pilot Yared Mulugeta Getachew wept as they gathered at the scene of the tragedy. Getachew, 29, had been described by the airline as an experienced aviator with more than 8,000 flight hours.
This black box flight recorder from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jet could reveal what caused the Boeing 737 Max to crash
It comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued orders for the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet model involved to be grounded.
This followed the lead of other global aviation regulators unnerved by the second crash involving the same type of plane in less than five months.
Long queues were seen at airports in Toronto and Vancouver after Air Canada had to re-book passengers onto new flights as the flight ban came in to force.
The flight data and cockpit voice recorders recovered from the Ethiopian Airways plane that crashed on Sunday have been handed over to France’s air accident investigation agency for analysis today (pictured)
Two men carry suitcases containing the flight recorders from the Ethiopian jet into the French air accident investigation authority this afternoon
Distraught members of the pilot’s family broke down in tears today as they visited the crash site in a remote patch of land in Ethiopia
The grieving family of pilot Yared Mulugeta Getachew (shown in the framed picture) wept as they gathered at the scene of the tragedy
Getachew, 29, had been described by the airline as an experienced aviator with more than 8,000 flight hours
Black boxes from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines jet are being sent to Paris for investigation today as the grounding of all 737 Max 8 planes continues to create travel chaos for passengers around the world
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued orders on Wednesday for the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet model involved to be grounded. Pictured: A Southwest Airlines 737 Max 8 jet at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank last night
Long queues were seen at airports in Toronto and Vancouver (pictured) after Air Canada had to re-book passengers onto new flights as the flight ban came in to force
On Thursday morning in Addis Ababa, grieving relatives of the 157 victims of Sunday’s air disaster boarded buses for a three-hour journey to the crash site in a field 37 miles outside the Ethiopian capital.
‘We saw where he died and touched the earth,’ said Sultan Al-Mutairi, who had come from Riyadh to mourn his brother, Saad, who perished in the crash.
Experts say it could take weeks or months to identify the victims, as their remains were scattered, charred and in fragments due to the impact of the crash and ensuing fire.
Both the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a Lion Air crash in Indonesia occurred shortly after take-off.
New information from the wreckage in Ethiopia and newly refined data about the plane’s flight path indicated some similarities between the two disasters ‘that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause,’ the FAA said in a statement.
France’s world famous air crash investigation unit
France doesn’t see an unusually large number of aviation disasters, but its plane crash investigators are world famous.
The French air accident investigation authority, known by its French acronym BEA, is now handling the analysis of the flight recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed after takeoff earlier this week, killing 157 people.
Ethiopian authorities wanted European investigators to handle the analysis because of its complexity, according to BEA spokesman Sebastien Barthe. They initially asked Germany, which said it didn’t have the necessary capacity to take it on, so then the Ethiopians turned to France, Barthe told The Associated Press.
And the BEA said yes.
The French agency, based in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget, has extensive experience in investigating crashes and other incidents involving commercial flights. The BEA notably helps with investigations in countries without the resources or equipment to analyze the flight recorders, often called the black boxes.
BEA investigators are also often called upon when an Airbus plane has a problem anywhere in the world, because the aviation manufacturer is based in France. This time the plane was a Boeing, whose popular 737 Max 8 model has been grounded or barred from air space in more than 40 countries pending investigation into what caused Sunday’s crash.
The BEA isn’t saying how long it will take to analyze the recorders – which are actually orange, despite their nickname. One collects data such as the plane’s altitude and airspeed, while the other records the sounds in the cockpit. Analysis typically takes days or weeks, depending on whether the recorders were damaged in the crash.
The French agency insists that its investigations are not aimed at assigning blame but at finding out what went wrong to make recommendations to improve air safety around the world.
Among major crash investigations the BEA has led were the 2015 plunge of a Germanwings jet – whose black boxes revealed that the co-pilot had deliberately slammed the plane into an Alpine mountainside after locking the captain out of the cockpit.
The BEA also studied the flight recorders retrieved from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean two years after the 2009 crash of Rio-Paris Air France Flight 447. The investigation determined its speed sensors had iced over, causing confusion in the cockpit.
A small delegation from Austria pay respects to a mutual friend killed at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 yesterday
Why experts fear Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737s crashed for similar reasons
Boeing’s 737 Max 8 models have been grounded in more than 40 countries around the world in the wake of Sunday’s tragedy.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited new satellite data and evidence from the scene of the crash near Addis Ababa for its decision to ground the planes.
Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau said a comparison of vertical fluctuations found a ‘similar profile’ between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash – also involving a Max 8 – that claimed 189 lives.
Garneau, a former astronaut who flew in the space shuttle, emphasized that the data is not conclusive but crossed a threshold that prompted Canada to bar the Max 8.
Similarities between two air disasters involving Boeing 737 Max 8 jets have shone a spotlight on an anti-stalling system used in the aircraft model
Questions about the Lion Air crash have honed in on an automated stall prevention system, the MCAS, designed to automatically point the nose of the plane downward if it is in danger of stalling.
According to the flight data recorder, the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the MCAS repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down following takeoff.
The Ethiopian Airlines pilots reported similar difficulties before their aircraft plunged to the ground as they tried to return to the airport. Officials have warned against drawing conclusions before investigations have been completed.
But according to the New York Times, aviation experts who examined flight data said it suggested MCAS may have been activated on the Ethiopian flight and could have contributed to the tragedy.
In the Lion Air crash, experts believe pilots repeatedly had to pull the nose of the jet up, only to be overridden by MCAS.
The ‘brand new’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 took off from Bole International Airport and reached an altitude of 8,600ft before coming crashing down 37 miles from Addis Ababa
The intervals were about 15 to 20 seconds, which left a repetitive signature on vertical speed flight data, the Times reports. Data for the Ethiopia jet, while less clear at this stage, appears to show a similar signature, the report adds.
Data has revealed the Ethiopian Airlines plane’s vertical speed – the rate of climb or descent – was ‘unstable’ and varied from 2,624 feet per minute to minus 1,216 within minutes of take off.
Aviation experts have previously described the Ethiopian data as extremely unusual, saying that once a plane has taken off the vertical speed should rise or remain stable.
One aviation commentator, Sally Gethin, said the plane’s rapidly fluctuating speed may indicate that the aircraft stalled in the moments before it crashed.
She said: ‘It’s the rate of climb or descent – the most critical phases of flight. Instability at that point e.g. too slow – could destabilise the aircraft, potentially risking stalling and other hazardous consequences. It might indicate the pilots had difficulty controlling the climb/ascent.’
An experienced pilot told MailOnline the activity was highly unusual.
He said: ‘A positive number indicates the aircraft is going up. After takeoff you would expect all these numbers to be positive as the aircraft climbed away from the ground, or zero if they are flying level.
‘The small amount of data released so far indicates that after only one minute or so of the flight this aircraft started a descent at a rate of up to 1920 feet per minute down. If the data is correct that is extremely unusual.
‘The data then shows the aircraft going up and down until the data stops. That is why some people are referring to unstable vertical speed.
An Ethiopian delegation led by the accident investigation bureau has flown the black boxes from the Ethiopia plane crash from Addis Ababa to Paris for investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday.
France’s air accident investigation agency BEA will analyse black-box flight recorders, a spokesman said.
The contents of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder that will be examined in France will provide critical details about what caused the plane crash, according to experts.
The acting administrator of the FAA, Daniel Elwell, said he did not know how long the U.S. grounding of the aircraft would last.
A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since a fatal crash last October in Indonesia will take months to complete, Elwell told reporters on Wednesday.
Deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX jets were effectively frozen, though production continued, after the United States joined a global grounding of the narrowbody model over safety concerns, industry sources said.
All 737 MAX jets have now been grounded, flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said. An Air Canada flight from San Francisco to Halifax was the last to land late on Wednesday.
Grieving friends and family members broke down in tears while some had to be held back (pictured) as they gathered at the crash site 40 miles from Addis Ababa
Pictures have emerged showing the scale of the crash site from above. Diggers have been excavating the site in a bid to locate bodies
With the uncertainty hanging over the 737 MAX, a French presidential source said European planemaker Airbus and Ethiopian Airlines are discussing a possible new contract as part of the airline’s fleet renovation.
The official said President Emmanuel Macron and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had spoken about a possible new contract during Macron’s visit to Addis Ababa earlier this week.
Airlines operating the 371 737 MAX jets that have been delivered since its 2017 debut said they had cancelled some of their flights and rearranged schedules to use other jets in their fleets.
‘Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season,’ said U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines Co, the world’s biggest operator of the 737 MAX.
Boeing, which maintained that its planes were safe to fly, said in a statement that it supported the FAA move.
‘Boeing has determined – out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety – to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.’