The “black boxes” of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed with the loss of 157 lives last week have been read successfully, French accident investigators said Monday.
The recorders from the Boeing 737 Max 8, which crashed March 10 shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, have been sent back to Ethiopia, French air accident investigation body BEA told dpa.
The Paris-based body said in a statement that French, Ethiopian and U.S. officials had verified “correct data extraction” from the two boxes — the flight data recorder, or FDR, and cockpit voice recorder.
The BEA — Bureau d'Enquete et d'Analyses (Bureau of Investigation and Analysis) — also confirmed Sunday’s statement from Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges that the data showed similarities with the October crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 plane off the coast of Indonesia that killed 198 people.
“During the verification process of the FDR data, clear similarities were noted by the investigation team between Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610, which will be the subject of further study during the investigation,” the BEA said.
Aviation authorities around the world grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes after the Ethiopian crash. The models are the latest version of the U.S. manufacturer's narrow-body workhorse.
Moges said Sunday that “detailed information” based on the black box data would be released within a month.
The Transportation Department’s inspector general had begun looking into the plane’s design certification before the Ethiopian Airlines crash, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The inspector general wants to know whether the Federal Aviation Administration took appropriate steps in approving the 737 Max’s anti-stall system, the newspaper said.
The FAA declined to comment on the report, referring questions to Boeing. A spokesman for the company told dpa it does not comment on legal matters, litigation, or governmental inquiries, adding, “we do not comment even as to whether such matters exist.”
An earlier FAA statement said its aircraft certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs.
“The 737-Max certification program followed the FAA's standard certification process,” the FAA said.
Questions have arisen over whether pilots worldwide were informed about the system and how to react when it was automatically activated. The aircraft system includes software designed to prevent the aircraft stalling on takeoff.
The Journal also reported Sunday that a grand jury in Washington issued a subpoena the day after the crash in Ethiopia to at least one engineer involved in the development process of the jets.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined dpa’s request for confirmation.
“As a general matter, the department will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation,” a department spokesman said.
Boeing said Sunday in a statement it is in the process of finalizing the update. The statement also quoted Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg as saying the company continues to support the Ethiopian investigation.
“As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety,” Muilenburg said.
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