Ethiopian Airlines Crash Updates: Canada Grounds Boeing Plane, Leaving U.S. Basically Alone
By The New York Times, March 13, 2019
- Canada grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 models, pointing to new satellite data suggesting similarities in the Ethiopian and Indonesian crashes. The decision leaves the United States basically alone in allowing the jetliners to keep flying.
- New developments are pointing to what appeared to be a struggle by pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to get control of their new Max 8 aircraft minutes after takeoff.
- Adding to pressure on Boeing, a major customer asked the company to compensate it financially for having to ground the aircraft in Europe.
- Ethiopia will send overseas for analysis the so-called black boxes — flight data and voice recorders — recovered from the crash site, the airline said.
- At least two pilots, flying United States routes on the Max 8 filed incident reports with the federal government that raised safety concerns and criticized a lack of training on the new plane.
- Citing safety concerns, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Vietnam closed their airspace to the Max 8 on Wednesday. The European Union, China and India had previously banned all Max 8 flights.
Canada grounds Boeing Max model
Transport Minister Marc Garneau of Canada grounded all Max 8 and Max 9 planes registered in the country on Wednesday morning. He also banned any entry into Canada’s airspace by the aircraft, a move that may affect operations of carriers based in the United States that continue to operate the planes.
The move by Mr. Garneau was an extraordinary break with his American counterparts on aviation safety policy, and basically left the United States alone as the only major country that has not grounded the planes, which are among Boeing’s best-sellers. Less than a day before, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States had reaffirmed its view that the plane was safe.
Mr. Garneau said at a news conference that the step had been taken after a review of newly available satellite tracking data — presumably available to aviation regulators everywhere — that suggested similarities in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday to the crash last October of a Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia.
The minister said that on Wednesday morning his officials and experts had compared satellite tracking data showing the vertical path of the Ethiopian jet at takeoff with similar data from the Lion Air flight.
A former astronaut and engineer, Mr. Garneau said that there were similarities that “exceed a certain threshold in our minds with respect to the possible cause of what happened in Ethiopia.”
“This is not conclusive, but it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that threshold has been crossed,” he said.
Still, the minister said, “It would be a mistake to say it looks exactly like the one that brought Lion Air down.”
The Canadian government told the office of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in the United States about its decision in advance of the public announcement. When asked if the Americans had pressured Canada not to go ahead, Mr. Garneau said: “Absolutely not.”
Pilots struggled to control the plane within minutes
Shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the captain of the Ethiopian Airlines jetliner reported “flight-control problems” to air traffic control. That suggests the cockpit crew was having trouble with the mechanical instruments used to handle the aircraft, the computerized systems that fly it, or both.The pilot’s alert was reported Wednesday by a spokesman for the airline, Asrat Begashaw; the airline’s chief executive, Tewolde GebreMariam, made similar remarks to CNN the day before.
Mr. Begashaw said the control tower had granted the crew’s request to return to the airport, and three minutes later it crashed, killing all aboard.
The disclosure added to suggestions that the plane had not responded to intended actions by the pilots. There has been no suggestion so far of terrorism or other outside interference in the functioning of the aircraft, which was only a few months old.
In earlier evidence pointing to the possibility of an intrinsic problem with the aircraft, control issues were reported by the crew of the Lion Air Max 8 that crashed minutes after takeoff in Indonesia last October. And pilots on at least two Max 8 flights in the United States have reported concerns about unexpected dips in the aircraft’s nose after the autopilot was engaged.