Tulu Fara: Airlines in Ethiopia, China and Indonesia grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets on Monday as investigators recovered the black boxes from a brand-new passenger jet that crashed outside Addis Ababa a day earlier, killing all 157 people on board.
The Nairobi-bound plane - the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October, killing 189 passengers and crew - smashed into a field just six minutes after takeoff as the pilot alerted controllers of “difficulties.”
Hopes were raised on Monday of finding answers for the deaths of people from 35 countries, including two dozen UN staff, that prompted Ethiopia to declare a day of mourning.
“After tedious search by the rescue and investigation team... Ethiopian Airlines announces that the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of ET302 have been recovered,” the state-owned carrier said in a statement, using the flight number.
The airline, Africa’s largest, added it had grounded its fleet of six remaining Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes pending information “assumed to be found from the black box data.”
This followed on the heels of China, which ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. There were eight Chinese nationals among the 149 passengers and eight crew on board the ill-fated flight.
Indonesia, which has 11 of the planes, said it would “carry out inspections and temporarily prohibit Boeing 737 Max 8 from flying.”
Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling airplane ever, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers.
State-owned Ethiopian Airlines had ordered 30 MAX 8 jets in total, and China has received 76 from an order of 180.
The plane that crashed on Sunday was less than four months old. It had been delivered on Nov.15, Ethiopian Airlines said.
The jet fell near the village of Tulu Fara, some 60 kilometres east of Addis Ababa.
Witness Tegegn Dechasa said “the plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion.”
Another, farmer Sisay Gemechu, said: “The plane seemed to be aiming to land at a nearby level open field, but crashed before reaching there.”