ethiopian airlines crash
April 4, 2019

Ethiopian officials said Thursday that a preliminary report on the crash of an Ethiopian Airline flight last month showed that the pilots followed all the procedures recommended by Boeing when their 737 MAX 8 passenger jet repeatedly nosedived before crashing minutes after takeoff, killing a 157 people on board. Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said the plane's takeoff "appeared very normal," the Ethiopian Airline pilots had "the license and qualification to conduct the flight," and the plane had been certified as airworthy.

"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft," Moges said at a news conference. "Since repeated uncommanded aircraft nose-down conditions are noticed in this preliminary investigation it is recommended that the aircraft flight control system related to the flight controllability shall be reviewed by the manufacturer."

After the crash and an apparently similar disaster five months earlier with a Lion Air 737 MAX 8, all 737 MAX aircraft were grounded worldwide last month while Boeing completed a software update to the flight-stabilization system. The Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve the fix, announced Wednesday that it is forming an international team to review the 737 MAX's safety and the aircraft's anti-stalling system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Peter Weber

March 14, 2019

Just one minute after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, the pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 reported a "flight control" problem, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told The New York Times Thursday.

The brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashed while en route to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board. The person said that three minutes into the flight, the pilot sounded panicked, and requested permission to return to the airport. By that point, air traffic controllers had already noticed that the plane had accelerated to an unusually high speed, and was erratically moving up and down. Within five minutes, contact with the jet was lost.

In October, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia, and while there are similarities between the accidents, investigators say it's too early in the Ethiopian Airlines investigation to draw any conclusions. The crash of Flight 302 led to a global grounding of the MAX aircraft, and the plane's voice and data recorders are now in France, where they will be analyzed. Catherine Garcia

March 14, 2019

After President Trump announced the immediate grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets Wednesday afternoon, following the lead of every major nation and airline outside the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration quickly took responsibility for the decision. The FAA said newly discovered similarities between Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 and a Lion Air MAX 8 crash five months ago raised "the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed."

Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said U.S. regulators received "refined satellite data" Wednesday morning showing that "the track of the Ethiopian Airlines flight was very close — and behaved very similarly — to the Lion Air flight." Unspecified "evidence we found on the ground made it even more likely that the flight path was very close to Lion Air's," Elwell added. A senior administration official told Politico the new data arrived at 10:30 a.m., and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called Trump with the decision at 1:30 p.m. after a meeting with FAA officials.

"It wasn't immediately clear what the FAA knew Wednesday afternoon that it couldn't have known earlier in the day, when Canada barred the 737 MAX from its airspace — also citing newly available data about the flights," Politico notes, "or on Tuesday, when the EU and other U.S. allies made the same call." And Trump was unusually involved in the decision, speaking with Boeing's CEO on Tuesday, touting Boeing as a "great, great company" when announcing the grounding of its jets, and appearing to catch at least Southwest Airlines — the largest U.S. user of 737 MAX jets — by surprise with his announcement.

Typically, Politico says, the FAA would announce the decision, not the president, and "countries would follow the lead of the agency that had certified the aircraft in question. In this case, that would be the FAA, which has historically been seen as the gold standard among aviation safety regulators." Peter Weber

March 13, 2019

With Tuesday's decision by the European Aviation Safety Agency to ban Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from the airspace of the 32 countries it oversees, the U.S. is one of the few remaining countries still allowing the aircraft to fly. Two Boeing 737 MAX 8s have crashed in the last six months, including Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing are standing behind the new jet. "Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft," FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said in a statement Tuesday evening, and no other civil aviation authority has "provided data to us that would warrant action."

Turkish Airlines, Icelandair, South Korea's Eastar Jet, and Oman Air were among the latest airlines to ground their Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and the United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia have also barred the jet from taking off or landing in their countries. U.S. airlines American and Southwest are continuing to fly their 737 MAX 8s, and a vice president for American said the world's biggest carrier has "full confidence in the aircraft." But several U.S. lawmakers, Consumer Reports, former Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood, and others disagree, arguing it would be safer to ground the plans pending further study. Peter Weber

March 12, 2019

On Tuesday, Australia and Singapore temporarily barred Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from flying in and out of their airports, following Monday's decision by China, Indonesia, and several national airlines to ground all 737 MAX jets following a fatal crash in Ethiopia on Sunday. Almost 40 percent of the 371 Boeing 737 MAX jets in service globally have been grounded, Flightglobal reports, including China's 97 jets and Brazilian carrier Gol Airlines 121 MAX 8 aircraft.

To assuage concerns about the safety of the MAX 8 — Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second in five months for that model of Boeing aircraft — the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a "continued airworthiness notification" for 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing said it will be rolling out improvement to the 737 MAX flight control software in coming weeks.

Before the Ethiopia Airlines crash, The New York Times details, the 737 MAX 8 made about 8,500 flights a week. It is the world's fastest-selling modern aircraft, and with 4,661 on order, Reuters says, "737 MAX 8s could become the workhorses for airlines around the globe for decades." Boeing shares closed down 5 percent on Monday, paring earlier, steeper losses.

Airlines in the the U.S., Canada, the Middle East, and Europe are continuing to fly their 737 MAX 8s, and officials in the U.S. and Europe say they're "confident that pilot training, maintenance practices, and safeguards in place will prevent a catastrophe such as the one that killed 157 people in Ethiopia on Sunday," The Washington Post reports. "For the countries and airlines that have grounded the plane, the decision reflects fears about their unfamiliarity with the new technology and the potential fallout from a catastrophe — particularly for new and smaller carriers." Peter Weber

March 11, 2019

Boeing shares declined by 9 percent in pre-market trading on Monday after the crash of one of its popular 737 Max 8 jets in Ethiopia sparked safety concerns, Bloomberg reports. Ethiopian Airlines on Monday said it was grounding its fleet of new planes after one of them crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. China's civilian aviation authority also ordered Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their 96 Max 8s following the crash, the second involving one of the Boeing planes in five months; a Lion Air flight crashed in the Java Sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board. The plane was leaving Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, for Nairobi, Kenya. The cause of Sunday's crash is under investigation. Harold Maass

March 10, 2019

All 157 people on board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 were killed Sunday morning when the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters that the pilot, after experiencing technical difficulties, asked for clearance to return to Bole International Airport. The plane, a brand new Boeing 737, was headed to Nairobi, and the pilot had an "excellent flying record," the CEO said.

The victims include Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian author and professor from Ottawa's Carleton University who received the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing in 2010; Paolo Dieci, the Italian founder of the International Committee for the Development of Peoples; retired Nigerian Ambassador Abiodun Oluremi Bashu; three doctors from Austria; and the wife, daughter, and son of Slovakian lawmaker Anton Hrnko.

Several U.N. employees were also on the flight, including workers with the World Food Program. The U.N. Environment Assembly is taking place in Nairobi this week, and many were on their way to the event. Eight Americans were on the plane, as well as 32 victims from Kenya, nine from Ethiopia, eight from China, and seven from France. Catherine Garcia

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