Boeing vows to take all necessary safety steps after Ethiopia issues preliminary 737 MAX crash report

Boeing vows to take all necessary safety steps after Ethiopia issues preliminary 737 MAX crash report

6:00pm, 4th April, 2019
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg sits behind pilots during a 737 MAX airplane flight that demonstrated the performance of a flight control software update. (Boeing Photo) Boeing executives said today that they would take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the company’s 737 MAX airplanes, after issued a saying that an Ethiopian Airlines jet was felled last month due to the same sensor problem that caused a fatal crash in Indonesia less than five months earlier. The Ethiopian crash and last October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia killed a total of 346 people and led to the worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes. Like investigators in Indonesia, the Ethiopian investigators said an automated flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, forced the plane into a catastrophic dive. Boeing’s software-based MCAS system was added to the 737 MAX as a safeguard against stalling, but in both cases, investigators said a faulty sensor fed bad data into the system. The preliminary report on the Ethiopian crash, issued today, said the pilots tried Boeing’s recommended procedure for overriding the MCAS system but still failed to regain control of the plane. , Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was apparent that the MCAS system added to what is already a high workload environment. “It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk,” he said. “We own it, and we know how to do it.” We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 accidents and are relentlessly focused on safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again. Watch the full video here: — Dennis A. Muilenburg (@BoeingCEO) Muilenburg said Boeing has nearly completed work on a software update that would “prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.” He expected the fix to be certified and implemented throughout the 737 MAX fleet in the weeks ahead. , Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister said the company would “carefully review” the preliminary report from Ethiopian investigators, “and will take any and all additional steps necessary to enhance the safety of our aircraft.” Ethiopian Airlines and investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration reacted to the day’s developments on Twitter: |n Airlines Statement on the Preliminary Report of the Accident on ET 302 — Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) NTSB statement: The preliminary report issued Thursday April 4, 2019, by the Ethiopia Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau presents the initial information developed during their investigation of the crash of flight 302. NTSB investigators and technical advisers reviewed… — NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) … the draft preliminary report and provided input. The NTSB, FAA and Boeing have had access to the Flight Data Recorder data since it was downloaded, and investigators and technical advisers continue to analyze the data in coordination with Ethiopian authorities. — NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) Correction: statement on the investigation by the authorities. — The FAA (@FAANews)
Ethiopian jet’s data points to a system that was an issue for 737 MAX before the crash

Ethiopian jet’s data points to a system that was an issue for 737 MAX before the crash

8:11pm, 18th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines employees conduct a memorial service on March 15 to pay tribute to colleagues and passengers who lost their lives in the March 10 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo) The latest word from the investigation of is that readings retrieved from the flight data recorder reportedly point to circumstances similar to those that surrounded a 737 MAX crash less than five months earlier in Indonesia. Regulators around the world suspected as much, based on data received via satellite from the plane during its minutes-long flight from Addis Ababa heading for Kenya on March 10. That’s what led them to last week. The March 10 crash killed all 157 people aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, while the October crash killed all 189 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610. In the Lion Air investigation, safety experts focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Boeing added the MCAS system to the 737 MAX to guard against having the airplane stall under extreme conditions. The measure was taken because the MAX’s engines are bigger than the engines on the previous line of 737s, changing the aerodynamics. Preliminary findings from the Indonesia probe suggested that the MCAS system was receiving spurious data about the plane’s aerodynamic “angle of attack” just after takeoff. That would lead the automatic system to force the plane’s nose downward into an uncalled-for dive. In the Lion Air case, the pilots repeatedly fought against the MCAS commands — and ultimately lost. Afterward, Boeing said pilots can use a procedure to disengage the MCAS system, but that procedure wasn’t followed by the Lion Air pilots. Today, Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying the angle-of-attack readings from the Ethiopian Airlines jet’s flight data recorder were “very, very similar” to the Lion Air readings. The similarities will be the focus of further investigation, Reuters quoted its source as saying. The double disaster has raised deeper questions about the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of Boeing during the certification of the 737 MAX. Over the weekend, The Seattle Times quoted sources as saying that assessing the MCAS system’s safety. The Times said those analyses understated how much leeway the automatic system was given to move the horizontal tail in order to avoid a stall — or force a dive if the system malfunctioned. Another potential flaw with the system was that it depended on readings from a single angle-of-attack sensor, rather than multiple sensors. Much of The Seattle Times’ report was based on research conducted before the Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed. Aerospace reporter Dominic Gates wrote that “both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses” a few days before the crash. People shouldn’t misread this point. I was not telling Boeing or the FAA anything they didn’t know.As noted, Boeing has been working since the first crash on a fix for the flaws my story listed — Dominic Gates (@dominicgates) In a , Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that “safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing” and that the company is working with authorities and airlines to support the investigation and “help prevent future tragedies.” “Soon we’ll release a software update for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident,” Muilenburg said. That update, and revisions in pilot training procedures, should address the MCAS’ behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs, Boeing says. that Justice Department and Transportation Department officials are reviewing how the 737 MAX was developed, and how the plane won its regulatory approvals. it gave to 737 MAX jets. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has said he intends to hold a hearing into the issues raised by the crashes, in his capacity as the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The committee’s ranking Democratic member is Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. She touched on the matter briefly in response to a question today at the . “Paramount in all of this is safety,” Cantwell told GeekWire. “So we’re going to keep looking at all the data and information until we are sure that we understand every aspect of this.”
FAA grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing ‘new evidence’ from Ethiopia crash site

FAA grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing ‘new evidence’ from Ethiopia crash site

2:51pm, 13th March, 2019
An artist’s conception shows a Southwest Airlines 737 MAX taking to the air. (Boeing Illustration) The Federal Aviation Administration today ordered the temporary grounding of Boeing’s next-generation 737 MAX jets, due to “new evidence” collected at the site of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash as well as satellite data. “The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorder,” the FAA : statement on the temporary grounding of 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in a U.S. territory. — The FAA (@FAANews) Southwest Airlines operates , American Airlines has 24 MAX 8’s and United Airlines has 14 MAX 9’s, accounting for nearly 300 daily flights in all. Today’s announcement, which affects all 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S territory, came after scores of other nations took similar measures. The move was signaled in advance by President Donald Trump, and came just hours after Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said 737 MAX planes would be barred from arrivals, departures and overflights in Canada. Garneau said satellite data suggested there were similarities between the flight profiles for the 737 MAX 8 involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on Sunday and a , killing 189 people. In both cases, the pilots reported control difficulties just after takeoff, and the planes nose-dived shortly afterward. Garneau said the satellite readings were not conclusive, and he shied away from saying definitively that the crashes were related. “But it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” he said. Air Canada operates 24 of the 737-8 jets, while WestJet has 13 of the planes and Sunwing has four. Air Canada said that it was but that there may be delays. Preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The system is designed to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators said spurious sensor data may have caused the MCAS to put the Lion Air plane into an unwarranted dive. Boeing has laid out a procedure that pilots can use in such a scenario to switch off the MCAS system; however, that procedure wasn’t followed by the Lion Air pilots. The FAA says Boeing is due to upgrade the MCAS software next month. Today’s FAA announcement marked a rapid about-face: On Tuesday, the agency that it saw “no basis to order grounding” 737 MAX airplanes, and that no other civil aviation authorities had furnished data that would warrant further action. The 737 MAX is the latest incarnation of Boeing’s best-selling jet, and the company insists that the planes are safe. But in a , Boeing said it supported the decision: “Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft. ” ‘On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents,’ said Dennis Muilenburg, president, CEO, chairman of the Boeing Company. ” ‘We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.’ “Boeing makes this recommendation and supports the decision by the FAA.” Check back for updates to this developing story, first published at 10:49 a.m. PT March 13.
Canada grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets in wake of Ethiopia crash, isolating U.S.

Canada grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets in wake of Ethiopia crash, isolating U.S.

1:18pm, 13th March, 2019
Air Canada joins the list of carriers grounding their 737 MAX planes. (Air Canada Photo) Canada today joined scores of nations in suspending flights of Boeing 737 MAX jets, out of concern that two catastrophic 737 crashes might be related. The move by Transport Minister Marc Garneau leaves the United States and the Federal Aviation Administration increasingly isolated in its stance that the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets are airworthy and that no further safety measures are needed at this time. Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 planes are barred from arrivals and departures in Canada, and will not be allowed to fly over the country until further notice, Garneau said. Air Canada operates 24 of the 737-8 jets, while WestJet has 13 of the planes and Sunwing has four. Air Canada said that it was but that there may be delays. Garneau said satellite data suggested there were similarities between the flight profiles for the 737-8 involved in an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on Sunday and a , killing 189 people. In both cases, the pilots reported control difficulties just after takeoff, and the planes nose-dived shortly afterward. Garneau said the satellite readings were not conclusive, and he shied away from saying definitively that the crashes were related. “But it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” he said. With Canada having blocked Boeing 737 Max planes from its airspace, the US has the only remaining ones, with nearly 50 currently in use. — Jillian Stampher (@JillianStampher) Preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The system is designed to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators said spurious sensor data may have caused the MCAS to put the Lion Air plane into an unwarranted dive. Boeing has laid out a procedure that pilots can use in such a scenario to switch off the MCAS system, but that procedure wasn’t followed by the Lion Air pilots. The FAA says Boeing is due to upgrade the MCAS software next month. Concerns about a potential link between the two fatal crashes have led to widespread groundings of the 737 MAX, the latest incarnation of Boeing’s best-selling plane. China and the European Union have been joined by nations ranging from Mexico to Oman. On Tuesday, the FAA issued a statement saying that it saw “no basis to order grounding” 737 MAX airplanes, and that no other civil aviation authorities have furnished data that would warrant further action: UPDATED Statement regarding 737 MAX. — The FAA (@FAANews) Boeing said it had no new guidance to offer to 737 MAX operators. “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.” The black-box recorders from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have been recovered, but there’s no word yet about what was found in the cockpit recordings or flight data.
China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

China and 3 other nations suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after crash in Ethiopia

11:46am, 11th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Update for 9:27 a.m. PT March 11: Airlines in China and three other countries have suspended flights of their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets in light of Sunday’s catastrophic crash in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines reported today that both of the “black boxes” from the 737-8 that crashed — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — . However, as saying that one of the recorders was partially damaged. “We will see what we can retrieve from it,” the official told AP. Sunday’s crash killed all 157 people aboard the plane, including . Many of those workers were in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737-8 model in less than five months. The earlier crash. , China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it was issuing its suspension notice “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occurred in the takeoff phase.” The agency said it would consult with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and let Chinese airlines know when flights can be resumed. Separately, Ethiopian Airlines, which has four 737 MAX 8’s remaining after Sunday’s crash, said it would Indonesia for inspections. And Cayman Airlines said it was “until more information is received.” Boeing is participating in the Ethiopia crash investigation but said it had no new guidance for airplane operators: Breaking: In statement to CNN, Boeing says no new safety guidance planned for now on : “At this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.” — Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) The crash forced the at its factory in Everett, Wash. “Boeing is deeply saddened by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and our focus is on supporting our customer,” company spokesman Paul Bergman said in an email. “In light of this, we are postponing the 777X external debut on March 13 and the related media events. We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.” was down more than 7 percent in midday trading. Previously: Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed Sunday, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents during an early phase of flight is drawing attention from analysts. that the crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and GE. Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8 just minutes after takeoff. Soon afterward, the plane took a high-speed, catastrophic dive into the Java Sea. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in Sunday’s crash had its first flight and was added to Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet in . It was among, out of a ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue plus mechanical failure, human error, weather conditions and potential sabotage. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.” This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 12:47 p.m. PT March 10.
China tells airlines to suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after fatal crash in Ethiopia

China tells airlines to suspend Boeing 737 MAX flights after fatal crash in Ethiopia

9:51pm, 10th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Update for 7:45 p.m. PT March 10: Chinese officials asked domestic Chinese airlines to suspend flights of their Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, in light of today’s catastrophic crash in Ethiopia. The crash, which killed all 157 people aboard the plane, was the second fatal accident involving the 737-8 model in less than five months. The earlier crash killed 189 people on a Lion Air flight in Indonesia. , China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it was issuing the suspension notice “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occurred in the takeoff phase.” The similarities led officials to declare the suspension “in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks.” The agency said it would consult with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and let Chinese airlines know when flights can be resumed. Separately, Cayman Airlines said it was “until more information is received.” The crash forced the at its factory in Everett, Wash. “Boeing is deeply saddened by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and our focus is on supporting our customer,” company spokesman Paul Bergman said in an email. “In light of this, we are postponing the 777X external debut on March 13 and the related media events. We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future.” Previously: Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed today, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents during an early phase of flight is drawing attention from analysts. that today’s crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and GE. Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8 just minutes after takeoff. Soon afterward, the plane took a high-speed, catastrophic dive into the Java Sea. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in today’s crash had its first flight and was added to Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet in . It was among, out of a ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue plus mechanical failure, human error, weather conditions and potential sabotage. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.” This is an updated version of a report that was first published at 12:47 p.m. PT March 10.
157 die in Ethiopian crash, marking second loss of Boeing 737 MAX jet in five months

157 die in Ethiopian crash, marking second loss of Boeing 737 MAX jet in five months

3:09pm, 10th March, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam visits the accident scene. (Ethiopian Airlines Photo via Twitter) Ethiopian Airlines said one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets crashed today, just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 people aboard. It was the second fatal crash involving a recently delivered 737 MAX 8, following the last Oct. 29. Although it’s too early to speculate about the cause, the fact that two recently delivered 737 MAX 8 jets have been involved in catastrophic accidents — during the same phase of flight — is drawing attention from analysts. that today’s crash “is raising more intense questions — and speculation than usual after a crash because it comes in the wake of the Lion Air 737-8 crash last year.” “But be cautious about drawing conclusions at this stage,” Leeham’s Scott Hamilton wrote. “Until the black boxes are recovered, information is limited.” At a news conference in Ethiopia, Tewolde GebreMariam, the group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, also counseled caution. He said Boeing and Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau would take part in the crash investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Board said it was , and Kenyan investigators were on their way as well. In a statement, Boeing said it was extended its sympathy and confirmed that it would send a technical team to assist in the investigation. Ethiopian Airlines said Flight 302 was , representing 35 nationalities. Eight Americans were said to be aboard. the flight had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, earlier in the day from Johannesburg, South Africa, and headed out for Nairobi at 8:38 a.m. local time, flown by a senior captain with more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours. GebreMariam said the pilot reported difficulties just after takeoff from Bole International Airport. The pilot reportedly sought, and was given, permission to return to the airport — but contact was lost at 8:44 a.m., six minutes into the flight. The plane smashed into the ground violently in an area about 20 miles to the southeast, near the town of Bishoftu. A showed GebreMariam at the crash scene, surrounded by wreckage and disturbed earth. At first blush, the circumstances seem similar to those of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia. In that case, pilots reported difficulties maintaining level flight on their 737 MAX 8. Just minutes after takeoff, the plane pitched into a catastrophic dive. The suggest that an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, may have played a role in that incident. The MCAS system is a safeguard that’s meant to keep the 737 MAX from stalling under extreme aerodynamic conditions, but investigators surmised that the system was getting spurious data from sensors that measure air flow over the wings. Boeing says pilots have a procedure that can quickly resolve such an issue, but that procedure was not followed by the Lion Air pilots. The Lion Air accident focused heightened attention on the MCAS system, raising pilots’ awareness about the control issue and how to resolve it. Records show that the plane involved in today’s crash had its first flight . It was among, out of a that were ordered in 2014. The airline said the plane “underwent a rigorous first check maintenance” in February. In his , Hamilton said investigators are likely to consider a wide range of factors, including the MCAS issue as well as mechanical failure, human error and weather conditions. “It should be noted that Ethiopian is considered one of the best airlines in the world and the best in Africa,” he wrote. “It’s got a good safety record and service is considered very good. This is in contrast to the spotty safety record of Lion Air.”