France begins analysis of black boxes received from Ethiopian Airlines crash.
French investigators took possession on Thursday of the black boxes recovered from the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, seeking clues about the causes of a disaster that has grounded Boeing’s 737 Max fleet worldwide.
It may take several days to complete the first analysis of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, a spokesman for France’s bureau of civil aviation safety (BEA) said.
“First we will try to read the data,” he said, adding that he did not know what condition the black boxes were in.
Sunday’s crash, in which 157 people from 35 countries were killed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, was the second such calamity involving Boeing’s 737 Max in less than six months. A Lion Air jet crashed in Indonesia in October, also shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board.
The two crashes have shaken aviation industry, scared passengers worldwide and put significant pressure on the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturer to prove the safety of a model intended to be the standard for decades.
Donald Trump followed regulators around the world in grounding Boeing’s 737 Max fleet on Wednesday. The US president said safety was of paramount concern. “They have to find the problem … and they will find it,” he said.
Boeing said it had full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max, but that “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public” it had decided to temporarily ground the entire fleet.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), however, cited satellite data and evidence from the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that suggested similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with the Lion Air disaster.
Boeing’s stock has fallen about 11% since the crash, wiping nearly $26bn off its market value.
A software fix for the 737 Max that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday. Deliveries have effectively been frozen, but production continues.
Norwegian Air has said it will seek compensation from Boeing for costs and lost revenue after grounding its 737 Max fleet. Japan became the latest nation to suspend the planes on Thursday, and Garuda Indonesia said it may cancel its order for 20 of the aircraft, depending the FAA’s position .
Under international rules, Ethiopia is leading the investigation, but the BEA will canalyse the black boxes as an adviser. The US National Transportation Safety Board will also have an influential role as representative of the country of manufacture.
The choice of the BEA followed what experts say appears to have been a tug-of-war between national agencies, with Germany initially invited to do the analysis.
Attention has focussed since the Lion Air crash on an automated anti-stall system in the 737 Max that dips the plane’s nose down.
The pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 had reported control problems and received permission to return before the plane came down on arid farmland.