25 October 2019 16:55

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What do we know about the 737 Max 8 aircraft that crashed in Ethiopia, killing all on board? Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia. AP An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital on Sunday, killing everyone aboard. The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing's strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

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* With Ethiopian Airlines crash, a second new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet goes down * Boeing 737 MAX jet successfully completes first flight Fiji Airways flies the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes to New Zealand. AP Wreckage lies at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. "Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved," the company said in a statement. A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines, Asrat Begashaw, said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an "extra safety precaution." China's Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft, in line with the principle of "zero tolerance for security risks." It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order.


China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing's biggest customers for the aircraft. Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety and that the planes are airworthy, said director general of air transportation Polana B. Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. The head of Indonesia's national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered to aid the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday's crash. The US National Transportation Safety Board likewise said it was sending a team to help Ethiopian authorities.

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Boeing and the US investigative agency are also involved in the probe into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October. Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet's takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed during the few minutes it was in the air. "I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far," said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide. The situation will be better understood after investigators analyse the Ethiopian plane's black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Waldock said the way the planes both crashed - a fatal nosedive - was likely to raise suspicion. Boeing will likely look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max, he said. Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000. Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner's ascent were "clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem." But investigators also will look into the plane's maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash. Days after the Indonesian accident, Boeing notified airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. Indonesian investigators are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered the automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome. The Lion Air plane's flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on at least four previous flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed. Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane. • The newest version of Boeing's most popular jet is under intensified scrutiny after the deadly crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday, leading that carrier and at least 17 others around the world to ground their 737 Max 8 planes. • The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, in a "continued airworthiness notification," said that the investigation had just begun and that it did not have information to draw any conclusions or take any action — meaning the agency still considered the Max 8 safe to fly. But pilots and flight attendants in the United States raised questions about the Max 8's safety. • While investigators have not determined the cause of the crash, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have both been recovered, Ethiopian Airlines said. Some circumstances of the crash were similar to one in October in Indonesia that killed 189 people. Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot of Flight 302 had 8,000 hours of flying time but the co-pilot had just 200. The second crash of a new Boeing 737 Max in less than six months will worry the dozens of airlines, including Ryanair, which have ordered this latest generation of what is generally considered to be the world's safest passenger jet. Ethiopian Airline's flight 302 crashed on Sunday morning, six minutes after take off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board. World Food Programme deputy chief engineer, Michael Ryan from Co Clare who was killed when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take off from the capital Addis Ababa killing all 157 people on board Aviation observers have noted from readily available networked data that the Ethiopian Airlines jet appeared to be behaving somewhat erratically just minutes after take off. This could indicate that the pilots were experiencing difficulties in controlling their aircraft. This may not be dissimilar from the behaviour of the Lion Air 737 Max which crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia on October 29th last, killing 189. The black-box analysis of that flight demonstrated that the pilots had great difficulty in maintaining controlled flight as their aircraft repeatedly went into a nose-down dive. Early reports suggest that the Ethiopian pilots declared they were having difficulties and wished to return to Addis Ababa. The Lion Air crash investigation team has yet to file its final report but initial indications suggest that a system built into the aircraft's flight management software may have been a contributory factor. Boeing altered the 737 Max's flight-management software to account for this factor and make its handling similar to older Boeing 737s so that pilots can readily move from older aircraft to this latest generation of the plane. One aspect of the software change is to make the aircraft automatically go into a shallow dive when it approaches what is known as a stall speed. Pilots are trained to place their aircraft in a shallow dive when it is at risk of stalling but in the case of the 737 Max, the aircraft does it for them. However, many pilots have claimed they were not told of this new feature or the fact that it might come into play when instruments indicating airspeed and angle of attack become unreliable and falsely indicate that the aircraft might be in danger of stalling. The Lion Air jet had been having instrument problems and, even though the aircraft was otherwise flying normally, it is generally assumed that the anti-stall mechanism was triggered causing the otherwise normal flight to go into a dive. However, given the controversy this issue has recently developed in the pilot community, it would be surprising if a safety-conscious airline such as Ethiopian had not trained its pilots appropriately.

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