US ready to take 'immediate' action after Ethiopia plane crash
This picture taken on March 11, 2019, shows debris of the crashed airplane of Ethiopia Airlines, near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on March 10 morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said.
AFP/Michael Tewelde
US ready to take 'immediate' action after Ethiopia plane crash
Heather Scott (Agence France-Presse) - March 12, 2019 - 9:39am

WASHINGTON, United States — US regulators on Monday ordered Boeing to make urgent improvements to the best-selling jet involved in a deadly Ethiopia plane crash -- but ruled out grounding the fleet as investigators worked to piece together the aircraft's final moments.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed minutes into a flight to Nairobi on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board and prompting airlines across the world to begin withdrawing the model from schedules.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was working with local authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board and may soon share safety information concerning the aircraft.

"If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action," it said in a statement.

The FAA said it was ordering Boeing to make improvements to anti-stalling software and the maneuvering system, giving the company until the end of April to make the updates.

Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders from the airliner, which went down near Addis Ababa, just six minutes after takeoff, as the pilot alerted controllers of "difficulties."

There were passengers and crew from 35 countries on board, including some two dozen UN staff. Ethiopia decreed Monday a day of national mourning.

The aircraft was the same type of jet as the Indonesian Lion Air plane that crashed in October, killing 189 passengers and crew.

Not since the 1970s -- when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 had successive fatal incidents -- has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short period.

The FAA acknowledged that the crashes were being linked in media reports but said the investigation had "just begun" and so far no data had been provided to "draw any conclusions or take any actions."

Airlines in Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico and other countries said they were suspending operations of their 737 MAX 8 fleets. Pilots from Argentina's Aerolinas Argentinas have refused to fly the aircraft.

The move caused Boeing shares to tumble around 12 percent earlier in the day, before recovering about half its losses by the close of the trading day.

The company said it was sending a technical team to the crash site and will work with Ethiopian and US regulators to determine the cause.

"The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators," Boeing said.


The plane that crashed on Sunday was less than four months old. Ethiopian Airlines said it was delivered on November 15. The airline grounded its fleet of six remaining Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

China also ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the MAX 8.

There were eight Chinese nationals among the 149 passengers and eight crew on the Ethiopia flight.

Indonesia, which has 11 of the MAX 8 model planes, said it would carry out inspections and temporarily prohibit them from flying.

Some airlines said they were not canceling MAX 8 flights, including Oman Air, flydubai, Turkish Airlines and Russia's S7.

US airlines also appeared to remain confident in the manufacturer, and Canadian officials said they will not ground the three aircraft in use by domestic carriers.

Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling airplane ever, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's largest carrier, had ordered 30 MAX 8 jets in total, and China has received 76 from an order of 180.

Black crater

The jet went down near the village of Tulu Fara, some 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of Addis Ababa.

Inhabitants of the remote area looked on from behind a security cordon as inspectors searched the crash site and excavated it with a mechanical digger.

The single-aisle Boeing jet left a deep, black crater at the impact site.

Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot was given clearance to turn around after indicating problems shortly before the plane disappeared from radar.

The airline's chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said the plane had flown in from Johannesburg early Sunday, spent three hours in Addis and was "dispatched with no remark," meaning no problems were flagged, before leaving for Nairobi. 

Author, student, aid workers

The crash cast a pall over a gathering of the UN Environment Programme as it opened in Nairobi. At least 22 staff from several UN agencies were onboard the doomed flight.

Delegates hugged and comforted one another as they arrived at the meeting with the UN flag flying at half-mast.

Passengers included tourists, business travelers and humanitarian workers.

Kenya had the highest death toll among the nationalities on the flight with 32, according to Ethiopian Airlines.

Canada was next with 18 victims.

There were nine Ethiopians and eight each from Italy and the United States. The airline said Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six and Germany five.

France, however, put its death toll at nine.

Britain also put its death toll at nine, including two dual nationals traveling on other passports.

Italian archaeologist Sebastiano Tusa, 66, died in the crash, his wife Valeria Patrizia Li Vigni was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

On Sunday, "the friends I met at mass said I shouldn't worry because bad news travels fast," she said.

"In the end it arrived anyway, and it destroyed my life. I felt the disaster coming... He hadn't even wanted to go." — with Solan Kolli in Tulu Fara, Ethiopia and Chris Stein in Addis Ababa

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 9, 2020 - 2:11pm

Ethiopia's parliament has declared Monday a day of national mourning after a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 people onboard.

"The House of People's Representatives have declared March 11, 2019, a national day of mourning for citizens of all countries that have passed in this tragic accident," the office of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter on Sunday. — AFP

March 9, 2020 - 2:11pm

US aviation regulators plan to require Boeing to rewire all 737 MAX aircraft before allowing the troubled planes fly again, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The MAX has been grounded worldwide since an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after take-off last March, less than six months after the same model was involved in a similar fatal accident in Indonesia. 

Both accidents saw uncontrolled drops in the aircraft's nose in the moments before the planes crashed, which investigators have blamed on the model's anti-stall flight system. 

Regulators have since concluded that the current wiring layout violated safety standards to prevent short-circuits that could cause similar sharp drops in aircraft pitch, the newspaper said Sunday.

The order to modify the wiring would apply to the nearly 800 MAX plans already produced, including those already in the hands of airlines, according to the report. — AFP

April 4, 2019 - 5:19pm

The Ethiopian transport minister says the crew of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed last month killing 157 people, repeatedly followed procedures recommended by Boeing, but were unable to regain control of the jet.

"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft," says Dagmawit Moges, unveiling results of the preliminary probe into the crash. — AFP

March 29, 2019 - 4:34pm

Investigators probing the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia have reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect anti-stall system activated shortly before it nose-dived to the ground, the WSJ reports citing people familiar with the matter.

The findings were based on flight recorder data and represented the strongest indication yet that the system, known as MCAS, malfunctioned in both the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, the Wall Street Journal says.

The two crashes killed a total of 346 people. — AFP

March 14, 2019 - 9:34pm

French investigators have received the black boxes from the Boeing 737 MAX that crashed east of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board, France's BEA airline safety agency says.

Ethiopian authorities had requested French help to analyze the content of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder to discover what caused the Ethiopian Airlines flight to plunge to the ground just minutes after takeoff on Sunday.

March 14, 2019 - 5:30pm

US authorities say that new evidence showed similarities between Sunday's deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and a fatal accident in Indonesia in October. The weekend crash killed all 157 people aboard. 

The ban on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft became worldwide after US President Donald Trump joined Canada and other countries in grounding the aircraft, and the black box flight recorders from the doomed plane were flown to France for analysis. — AFP

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