A WOMAN mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, yesterday.     Reuters
A WOMAN mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, yesterday. Reuters

Boeing’s black boxes in Paris for decoding

By Reuters Time of article published Mar 15, 2019

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Investigators in France took possession of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jet’s black boxes yesterday, seeking clues into a disaster that has grounded Boeing’s global 737 MAX fleet and left scores of families mourning and angry.

Flight 302 crashed after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday killing 157 people from 35 countries.

It was the second such calamity involving Boeing’s flagship new plane model in six months.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers worldwide, and left the world’s biggest plane-maker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

Relatives of the dead stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines yesterday, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.

“I can’t find you! Where are you?” cried an Ethiopian woman, in a white mourning shawl, as she held a framed portrait of her brother in the charred and debris-strewn field.

Countries around the world, in- cluding an initially reluctant US, have stopped using the 371 MAX planes, although they are largely coping by switching planes.

Another 5000 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry. Deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling jets have been frozen, although production continues.

Although it maintained the planes were safe, Boeing has supported the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) move. Its stock has fallen about 11% since the crash, wiping nearly $26billion (R377bn) off its market value.

After an apparent tussle over where the investigation should be held, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders arrived in Paris and were handed over to France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) agency.

A BEA spokesman said he did not know what condition the black boxes were in. “First we will try to read the data,” he said, adding that the first analyses could take between half a day and several days.

The investigation has added urgency since the FAA on Wednesday grounded the 737 MAX aircraft citing satellite data and evidence from the scene indicating some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October that killed 189 people.

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.

And in what may presage a raft of claims, Norwegian Air has said it would seek compensation from Boeing for costs and lost revenue after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX. Reuters

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