French air crash investigators say ‘clear similarities’ between Boeing 737 MAX crashes

S  Akshay M

S Akshay M

Boeing was pressured into grounding its entire fleet of 737 Max 8 aircraft last week, after flight ET302 became the second crash in five months to involve one of the models.

More than £21 billion has been wiped off the company's market value in a few days.

Investigators were expected to select a handful of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data in their initial review, including those thrown up by the Lion Air investigation, before analyzing the rest in coming weeks and months. The investigation comes alongside a Department of Transportation probe into the Federal Aviation Administration's approval process that certified the Boeing plane and its safety and training procedures.

She said a report on the data, which has been validated by U.S. and Ethiopian authorities, will be issued within the next month.

A voice from the cockpit of the Boeing 737 MAX requested to climb to 14,000 feet above sea level - about 6,400 feet above the airport - before urgently asking to return, said the source on condition of anonymity.

"The FAA will be called on the carpet for its role in the certification process and any contribution to the MCAS issue", Safran said. It has said the process followed FAA's standard process. The subpoena sought correspondence, emails and other messages related to the development of the 737 Max to be handed over in later March.

A Boeing spokesman declined commenting to TheWSJ on "legal matters or governmental inquiries".

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The U.S. Transportation Department's inquiry, which was launched in the wake of the accident in October that killed 189 people, has warned two FAA offices to safeguard computer files, the WSJ reported.

"Information collected so far from the flight data recorder has indicated clear similarities between both crashes", she told the publication.

It was not clear how numerous roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the doomed six-minute flight and earlier trips, had been taken into account in the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.

Previous air crash reports show that in such high-profile cases there can be disagreements among parties about the cause.

- In Paris, France's BEA air accident investigation agency said data from the flight recorder had been successfully downloaded. "A nose-down scenario resulting from an issue with the MCAS system would have the same characteristics as a runaway stabilizer trim scenario", the safety regulator said.

WestJet says it grounded all Max aircraft within 55 minutes of Transport Canada's order last Wednesday, with only three planes outside of Canada.

The US's air-safety agency initially resisted moves by its worldwide peers to ground the 737 MAX after the second crash. The news came after an alarming Seattle Times report claimed FAA officials pushed engineers to hand off responsibility for the safety of the 737 Max to Boeing itself.

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