Both black boxes found from crashed Ethiopian jet
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Both black boxes found from crashed Ethiopian jet

Investigators find flight data, voice recorders from Boeing 737 wreckage, as airlines around the world ground fleets of model

Debris from the crashed Ethiopia Airlines Boeing 737 plane some 60 kilometers southeast of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, March 11, 2019. (Michael Tewelde/ AFP)
Debris from the crashed Ethiopia Airlines Boeing 737 plane some 60 kilometers southeast of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, March 11, 2019. (Michael Tewelde/ AFP)

Investigators sifting through the wreckage of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane recovered the black boxes Monday, a critical step toward determining what caused the disaster, which killed all 157 on board, among them two Israelis.

“The Digital Flight Data Recorder(DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder(CVR) of ET302 have been Recovered,” Ethiopian Airlines tweeted.

An airline official, however, said that at least one of the boxes was partially damaged and that “we will see what we can retrieve from it.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to the media.

On Sunday, 157 passengers and crew members of a Boeing 737 MAX airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines were killed shortly after the Nairobi-bound flight took off from Addis Ababa.

At least 35 nationalities were among the dead. The two Israelis have yet to be publicly identified.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company said in a statement.

File photo taken on November 28, 2017, of an Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737-700 aircraft (ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

The Israeli emergency response group ZAKA sent a delegation late Sunday night  “to locate and identify the Israeli victims, to collect their remains in keeping with Jewish law and ensure a full Jewish burial,” the group said.

Israel’s Ambassador to South Sudan Hanan Godar said he was a passenger last week on board the same jetliner that crashed, saying the plane experienced engine trouble.

Ethiopian Airlines grounded all six of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the model involved in the disaster. In response, Indonesia said it was grounding the same model that was also involved in another deadly accident near Jakarta in October.

“The Director General of Air Transport will take steps to carry out inspections and temporarily prohibit Boeing 737 Max 8 from flying in Indonesia,” Director General of Air Transport Polana Pramesti told reporters in Jakarta.

The inspections on Indonesia’s 11 Max 8 jets would start Tuesday and the plane would remain grounded until it was cleared by safety regulators, she added.

Rescuers at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, March 11, 2019. (AP /Mulugeta Ayene)

The plane is the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October just minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Ten of Indonesia’s Max 8 jets are operated by Lion Air while the other is flown by national carrier Garuda.

The decision from Indonesia’s transport ministry came as China also ordered its airlines to suspend commercial operations of the state-of-the-art model earlier Monday.

Noting the “similarities” between the two accidents, China’s Civil Aviation Administration said domestic airlines had until Monday evening to ground all 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding the two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft it operates, as of Monday.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team,” Boeing said in a statement issued Sunday.

“A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board,” the company said.

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