Ethiopian Airlines plane crash: Boeing 787 MAX 8 crashes killing all passengers1:24
First Lion Air, now Ethiopian Airlines: What caused the Boeing 787 MAX 8 plane to plummet, killing 157 passengers?
The US Federal Aviation Administration has demanded Boeing make design changes to its 737 MAX aircraft by next month as doubt continues to set in over the safety of the best-selling aircraft used worldwide.
In a notice to the international community a day after the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8, the FAA deemed the US-made 737 MAX planes airworthy but outlined changes Boeing needed to deliver by April.
They included “flight control system enhancements” and changes to an automated protection system called the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.
The FAA also said Boeing would update training requirements and flight crew manuals to reflect those updates.
It had been reported Boeing had planned design changes after the fatal crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in October, but the FAA notice is the first public confirmation of this.
The notice from the FAA also noted external reports had drawn similarities between both crashes.
“However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” according to the Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community for Boeing 737 MAX 8 operators.
Airlines in China, Indonesia, Ethiopia, the Cayman Islands and Singapore have grounded MAX 8 jets in the wake of Sunday’s tragedy while passengers grow increasingly nervous about flying the planes.
Earlier, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said there would be “immediate action” if regulators identified any safety issue with the 737 MAX planes.
“If the FAA identifies an issue that affects safety, the department will take immediate and appropriate action,” Ms Chao told reporters.
“I want people to be assured that we take these incidents, these accidents very seriously.”
BLACK BOXES RECOVERED
Investigators have recovered both black box recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed just outside Addis Ababa, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew.
It’s hoped the flight recorders will help piece together the plane’s final minutes, as witnesses describe the horrific sight of the plane before it crashed.
An airline official said one of the recorders was partially damaged and “we will see what we can retrieve from it.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorisation to speak to the media.
The plane was making a strange rattling noise and trailed smoke and debris as it swerved above a field of panicked cows before hitting earth, according to witnesses.
Flight 302 took off from the Ethiopian capital on Sunday morning bound for Nairobi with passengers from more than 30 countries.
All on board the Boeing 737 MAX 8 died.
The pilot had requested permission to return, saying he was having problems — but it was too late.
Eyewitness Gebeyehu Fikadu, 25, told CNN he saw it come down while collecting firewood with other locals.
He said: “I was in the mountain nearby when I saw the plane reach the mountain before turning around with a lot of smoke coming from the back and then crashed at this site.
“It crashed with a large boom. When it crashed luggage and clothes came burning down.
“Before it crashed the plane was swerving and dipping with a lot of smoke coming from the back and also making a very loud unpleasant sound before hitting the ground.”
Half a dozen witnesses interviewed by Reuters in the farmland where the plane came down reported smoke billowing out behind, while four of them also described a loud sound.
“It was a loud rattling sound. Like straining and shaking metal,” said Turn Buzuna, a 26-year-old housewife and farmer who lives about 300 metres from the crash site.
“Everyone says they have never heard that kind of sound from a plane and they are under a flight path,” she added.
Malka Galato, 47, a barley and wheat farmer whose field the plane crashed in, also described smoke and sparks from the back.
“The plane was very close to the ground and it made a turn … Cows that were grazing in the fields ran in panic,” he said.
Tamirat Abera, 25, was walking past the field at the time. He said the plane turned sharply, trailing white smoke and items like clothes and papers, then crashed about 300 metres away.
“It tried to climb but it failed and went down nose first,” he said.
“There was fire and white smoke which then turned black.”
As the plane had only just taken off, it was loaded with fuel. At the crash site, men in Red Cross jackets and face masks picked through a large crater, stacking clothes in a heap on one side and wrapping corpses in white body bags.
Others sifted gently through victims’ belongings. Children’s books — Dr Seuss’ Oh The Thinks You Can Think and Anne of Green Gables — lay near a French-English dictionary burnt along one edge.
A woman’s brown handbag, the bottom burnt, lay open next to an empty bottle of perfume.
The smell of jet fuel mixed with burned flesh hung in the air, as local villagers watched.
Another heap contained twisted green-and-yellow metal from the fuselage. A lone engine with dents around the edges and several damaged tyres lay nearby. The aircraft was broken into small pieces, the largest among them a wheel and a dented engine. The debris was spread over land roughly the size of two football fields.
“When it was hovering, fire was following its tail, then it tried to lift its nose,” said another witness, Gadisa Benti.
“When it passed over our house, the nose pointed down and the tail raised up. It went straight to the ground with its nose, it then exploded.” Local resident Nigusu Tesema helped gather victims’ scattered identity papers to hand to police.
“We are shocked and saddened,” he said.