The Pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Reported Flight-Control Problems Before Crash

Mar 13, 2019

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The pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 on board, reported that he was having problems controlling the Boeing 737 MAX and wanted to return to the origin airport.

According to Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, the pilot’s conversations with air traffic controllers showed that he didn’t indicate other external issues with the aircraft, such as a bird strike. As told to The Wall Street Journal, Gebremariam instead said that the pilot told ATC he was having “flight-control problems.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, some drew comparisons to October 2018’s crash involving Lion Air Flight 610. Both flights were operated by new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and crashed shortly after takeoff. In both instances, the pilots failed to maintain a steady climb.

Investigators have released a preliminary report on the Lion Air crash, but the final report is still pending. For the Ethiopian Airlines crash, however, the investigation is still underway.

The black boxes of the aircraft have been recovered, and Gebremariam said they’d be sent to Europe for analysis — France, Germany and the UK are being considered, as well as the EU Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne. US officials have reportedly pushed for the boxes to be analyzed in America, however, the final decision on where they’ll be sent in Europe won’t be made until later Wednesday.

Since the crash on Sunday, a number of countries have banned the 737 MAX from taking off or landing at their airports — or even from entering their airspace. Additionally, some airlines have taken to grounding the 737 MAX aircraft in their fleets until investigations are complete. More than two-thirds of 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the world have been grounded at this time.

The only major holdouts of those to ground the 737 MAX aircraft from airspace are the United States and Canada. Both the FAA and Boeing have maintained that there has been no reason to ground the 737 MAX in the US.

Featured photo by Stephen Brashear / Getty Images.

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