Ethiopia Minister: Clear Similarity Between Two Crashes - NBC Connecticut
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Ethiopia Minister: Clear Similarity Between Two Crashes

Officials say 157 people from 35 different countries were killed when the Nairobi-bound plane crashed shortly after takeoff

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    A priest cries at a mass funeral at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Thousands of Ethiopians have turned out to a mass funeral ceremony in the capital one week after the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash. Officials have begun delivering bags of earth to family members of the 157 victims of the crash instead of the remains of their loved ones because the identification process is going to take such a long time.

    Preliminary information from the flight data recorder of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed a week ago and killed 157 people shows "clear similarities" with an earlier disaster involving the same kind of Boeing aircraft in Indonesia, Ethiopia's transport minister said Sunday.

    The disclosure came as thousands marched in the capital of Addis Ababa, accompanying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for the Ethiopian victims of Flight 302. The caskets were empty because authorities have said that recovering and identifying the remains will take months.

    The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — have prompted the United States and other countries to ground the aircraft.

    The flight recorders from Flight 302 that went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa for Nairobi were recovered "in a good condition that enabled us to extract almost all the data inside," Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters.

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    Information collected so far from the flight data recorder has indicated "clear similarities" between both crashes, she said. Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were sent to Paris for analysis by the French air accident investigation agency BEA.

    Moges did not elaborate on what the similarities were.

    Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in response to the report from Ethiopia's transport minister that the company "continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available." 
    Muilenburg expressed sympathies for the families affect by the crash and noted that the company was finalizing its development of a "previously-announced software update and pilot training revision" for the

    Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in response to Moges' comments that the company "continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available." 

    He expressed sympathies for the families affected by the crash and noted that the company was finalizing its development of a "previously-announced software update and pilot training revision" for the 737 Max 8 jetliners.

    The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration already has said satellite-based tracking data showed that the movements of Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed off Indonesia, killing 189 people.

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    Both planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.

    Suspicions emerged that faulty sensors and software may have contributed to the crashes.

    Moges said the Ethiopian government intends to release detailed findings within a month.

    At the memorial service earlier in the day, some of the relatives who marched behind the flag-draped coffins were overcome with grief and fainted.

    The service came one day after officials began delivering bags of scorched earth from the crash site to family members of the victims because of the problems with identifying the remains.

    Family members said they were given a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) sack of dirt from the crash site. Many relatives already have gone to the dusty field outside Addis Ababa where the plane went down to pay their respects.

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    Mourner Elias Bilew said he had worked with one of the victims, Sintayehu Shafi, for the past eight years.

    "He was such a good person," Bilew said. "He doesn't deserve this. He was the pillar for his whole family."

    Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed.