Ethiopian Airlines said yesterday it had recovered the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of its Boeing 737 – Max 8 aircraft, which crashed a few minutes after take-off near the country’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The airline said the flight recorders, otherwise known as black boxes, were recovered after a tedious search by the investigative team.
Ethiopian Airlines, however, has led the pack of global carriers to suspend commercial operations of all Boeing 737- Max 8 aircraft in its fleet.
China Airlines has also suspended commercial operations of the aircraft type.
Investigators are working on the black box data to ascertain the cause of the crash.
Ethiopian Airline said in a statement signed by Biniyam Demssie it would monitor the situation closely with stakeholders, and was providing support to families of the deceased in its temporarily established family assistance centers in Addis Ababa and Nairobi airports.
“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution.
All 157 souls, including two erudite Nigerians, Prof. Pius Adesanmi, and Abiodun Bashua, died in the crash on Sunday.
Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against the Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners.
The decades-old 737 family is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft.
The 737-800 delivers superior reliability, fuel efficiency and high-value returns that operators require in today’s competitive market. Its exceptional versatility and lower maintenance and operating costs provide a competitive edge regardless of business model or market.
Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already-redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January.
But two crashes involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air have sparked global outrage on the safety status of the aircraft type.
The latest version of Boeing‘s best-selling 737 family has again been thrust into the spotlight after the fatal crash in Ethiopia, months after a deadly crash involving an identical brand-new jet in Indonesia.
The same model, operated as Lion Air Flight 610 crashed on October 29, into the Java Sea (off the coast of Indonesia) shortly after take-off, killing all 189 on board.
Boeing is facing a string of lawsuits in the United States by families of the Lion Air crash victims, including five in U.S federal court in Illinois where it has its Chicago headquarters.
Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said the catastrophic crashes of two new planes were “highly unusual” and both had broad similarities in that they went down soon after take-off.
While it is unclear if there is a direct link, “this is now an extraordinary issue” for aviation safety officials to grapple with, and will prompt a sweeping investigation to determine if there were common issues, Rosenker said.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Company is the biggest operator of the MAX 8, with 31 aircraft, followed by American Airlines Group Inc. and Air Canada, with 24 each.
Southwest and American said on Sunday they remained fully confident in the aircraft and were closely monitoring the investigation.
China and Ethiopia grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft while a number of airlines are carrying out safety measures on the jets.
Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton cautioned against drawing comparisons between the two crashes, especially before the flight recorders were recovered. Ethiopian Airlines had a strong reputation and good safety record, he said in a blog post.
Late Sunday, Boeing said it would postpone the planned ceremonial debut of its 777x wide-body aircraft that had been set for Wednesday in Seattle and was to be live-streamed.
The company said it was focused on “supporting” Ethiopian Airlines and “will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.”
How safe is the brand new Boeing 737 Max 8? This is a legitimate question to ask while search and rescue operations are in progress in Ethiopia after the crash.
Lion Air cancelled a $22 billion order for the Boeing 737 Max 8. Qatar Airways followed, but later decided to stay with its agreement with Boeing for the delivery of some 60 737-800 MAX aircraft.
The air flight maintenance log on Lion Air showed six problems had been identified on the plane since October 26, including errors with its airspeed and altitude information displays.
The global aviation industry is worried, at least behind the scene. The following airlines are operating Boeing Max 8 aircraft.
Here is a list of airlines and the number of Max 8 on order or in operation.
Southwest Airlines: 250
GECAS : 150
Jet Airways: 125
Vet Jet Air: 120
Spice Jet: 116
Norwegian Air Shuttle: 110
Gol Transportes Aereos: 105
American Airlines; 100
SMBC Aviation Capital: 91
BOC Aviation: 77
Aviation Capital Group: 70
China Development Bank: 68
Turkish Airlines: 65
TUI Group: 54
China Southern Airlines: 50
Garuda Indonesia: 50
Jeju Air: 40
Silk Air: 37
Ethiopian Airlines: 30
Jackson Square Aviation: 30
Korean Air: 30
Virgin Australia: 30
Air Europa: 20
Goshwak Aviation: 20
Oman Air: 20
Donghai Airlines: 15
Malaysia Airlines: 15
Air China: 14
Air Lease Corporation: 14
China Eastern Airlines 13
Aerolinas Argentinas: 11
Japan Investment Advisor: 10
Lion Air: 10
Xiamen Air: 9
Blue Ar: 6
Nok Air: 6
Shandong Airlines: 6
Fiji Airways: 5
Qatar Airways: 5
Shenzhen Airlines: 5
Air Niugini: 4
Royal Air Maroc: 4
Hainan Airlines: 3
Business Jet: 2
Enter Air: 2
SkyUp Airlines: 2
9 Air: 1
Mauritania Airlines International : 1
SCAT Airlines 1