The Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman, Muse Yiheyis, said on Sunday that a preliminary review of the flight data recorder shows the aircraft’s altitude in both tragedies bumped along sharply as both suffered erratic climbs and descents.
“It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one. There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far,” said the spokesman, adding that the ministry will provide more information in a few days.
An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 en route from Addis Ababa to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi crashed a few minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people, mostly foreign nationals, on board.
The incident came less than six months after a Lion Air Boeing 737 crashed into the sea off Indonesia’s island of Java, only minutes after taking off from the capital, Jakarta. The crash claimed the lives of all 189 passengers and crew on board.
In both cases, the pilot had reported technical difficulties prior to the crash.
Indonesian authorities say the the pilots of a Boeing 737 MAX that recently crashed in Indonesia had not been provided with adequate training by the aircraft manufacturer.
It was not clear how many of the roughly 1,800 flight data parameters and two hours of cockpit voice recordings, spanning the six-minute flight and earlier trips, had been taken into consideration in the preliminary analysis.
Yiheyis further said the recovered data was validated by both the American and Ethiopian teams.
US officials, however, said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had not validated the data.
Reuters cited an unnamed official as saying that the NTSB and the FAA will assist in verifying and validating the data when investigators return to Addis Ababa to conduct interpretive work after reviewing black box data.
Another source said not much information had been circulated between the parties regarding the contents of data and voice recordings.
Boeing ‘finalizing software upgrade, revising pilot training’
Meanwhile, US aerospace giant Boeing said in a statement on Sunday that it was finalizing the development of a software upgrade and pilot training revision for 737 MAX.
“While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” the statement published on its website read.
The MCAS is an automated safety feature on the 737 Max designed to prevent the plane from entering into a stall, or losing lift.
Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot, said one idea for revised pilot training is an additional 10-15 minute iPad course that would explain the new software.
Sources familiar with the matter said Boeing plans to unveil the upgraded software in a week to 10 days.
The second crash of Boeing 737 Max promoted an international ban on flights of the model.
Boeing’s stock plunged 7 percent Monday as aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
The United States initially refused to ground all 737 Max 8 and 9 planes, but it gave in to mounting pressure last week.
US congressmen have said the planes could remain grounded for weeks to upgrade and install the software in every plane.