Why the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Crash Investigation Is Moving to France

Mar 14, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Following Ethiopian Airlines’ request for foreign aid in investigating the data from the two black-boxes retrieved from Flight 302, France’s BEA air safety agency has confirmed that it has received the recorders from the plane.

Black boxes are considered integral evidence for aircraft crash investigations. Virtually indestructible, these data recorders contain both information on flight control and engine performance (the Flight Data Recorder) as well as conversations between pilots and between the flight deck and air traffic control (the Cockpit Voice Recorder). Aviation experts who spoke to the French news agency AFP said black box information can help explain 90 percent of all crashes.

The airline has not said however why it chose France to lead the investigation of the crash; the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and its engines were US-made, the plane was registered in Ethiopia to an Ethiopian corporation, and among the 157 victims only seven were French.

Jan-Arwed Richter, founder and managing director of the German aviation-safety consultancy JACDEC, said that it is likely due to France’s facilities and relative proximity to Ethiopia.

“Normally to reduce lengthy shipping of these sensitive devices the nearest country that can do the job will be selected,” said Richter. “One of the few countries that were ready to decode and investigate the black boxes of the MAX is France, a country whose aviation industry is cutting-edge because they produce and test modern civil aircraft as well as the United States.”

Originally, Ethiopia had looked to Germany to assist in the investigation.

“Germany said that they did not have the latest equipment to be able to download the data, so they withdrew themselves from consideration,” said John Cox, the chief executive officer of aviation consulting firm Safety Operating Systems. The facilities required to accurately investigate black-box recordings are actually pretty limited as well. Cox said that the only countries equipped are the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and, of course, France.

Since Sunday, when the aircraft went down just after taking off from Addis Ababa bound for Nairobi, US authorities have noticed some parallels between the accident and the Lion Air crash that occurred in October 2018, which killed 189 people.

However, despite a request from US air-safety officials to have the investigation handed over to the US, Ethiopian authorities decided to send the evidence to France. The Wall Street Journal reported that this had to do with concerns that US experts might have show bias or exert undue influence since Boeing is an American company with close ties to the government. “The United States should be leading the world in aviation safety,” John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers’ Union, told the Dallas Morning News before the US finally caved and announced, last among major nations, that it was grounding the planes. “And yet, because of the lust for profit in American aviation, we’re still flying planes that dozens of other countries and airlines have now said need to be grounded.”

The US grounded all Boeing 737 MAXs on Wednesday.

Featured image by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.