A Boeing 737 jetliner prepares for takeoff. Photo: Twitter
A Boeing 737 Max jetliner prepares for take-off. Photo: Twitter

Black box data recovered from a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that crashed last week shows “clear similarities” with a recent crash in Indonesia of the same type of aircraft, according to Ethiopia’s transport minister.

While declining to give details, Dagmawit Moges told reporters on Sunday that the parallels would be the “subject of further study during the investigation” into the Ethiopian Airlines crash with a preliminary report issued in “30 days.”

The announcement came a week after Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed into a field southeast of Addis Ababa minutes into its flight to Nairobi, killing all 157 people onboard.

The disaster caused the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 after aviation regulators noticed similarities with the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX 8 that killed all 189 passengers and crew.

Both planes reportedly experienced erratic steep climbs and descents as well as fluctuating airspeeds before crashing shortly after takeoff.

Investigators are focusing on the automated anti-stalling system introduced on the 737 MAX 8, designed to automatically point the nose of the aircraft downward if it is in danger of stalling.

The pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the automated MCAS system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down following takeoff, according to the flight data recorder.

In the case of the Ethiopian flight, the black boxes have been handed to France’s BEA air safety agency, which is working with American and Ethiopian investigators to determine what went wrong.

Software update

Boeing is finalizing a software update and pilot training linked to the MCAS anti-stalling feature, the said on Sunday.

“Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” the US-based aircraft manufacturer’s president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the US agency that regulates civil aviation said Sunday it followed “standard” procedures in certifying the Boeing jetliner.

“The 737-MAX certification program followed the FAA’s standard certification process,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email to AFP.

It said its procedures were “well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs.”

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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