Ethiopian crash: Pilot had control problems
ADDIS ABABA, March 13
The Ethiopian Airlines pilot whose jet crashed killing 157 people had reported flight-control problems, the company said on Wednesday, as it prepared to send the black boxes to Europe from a disaster that has rocked the global airline industry.
The still unexplained crash, just after take-off from Addis Ababa, followed another disaster involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people. Though there is no evidence of links, the twin disasters have spooked passengers worldwide, led to the grounding of most of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, and sending shares in the world’s biggest planemaker plunging.
The investigation may focus on an automated anti-stall system that dips the aircraft’s nose down. Asrat Begashaw, a spokesman for Ethiopia Airlines, said the pilot had reported flight-control problems — as opposed to external factors such as birds — and had requested to turn back to Addis Ababa. “In fact he was allowed to turn back,” he said, adding that a decision where in Europe to send the black boxes would be taken by Thursday.
Authorities in France and Britain said they had not been approached yet.
Even as many passengers sought reassurances from travel agents that they would not be flying on a 737 MAX, the US held out against suspension and Boeing continued to affirm its “full confidence” in the model.