Investigators in France have taken charge of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines aircraft’s black boxes as they attempt to uncover what caused the Boeing 737 Max disaster.
The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) received the flight data and cockpit voice recorders yesterday.
The first readings could take days, but a lot depends on the boxes’ condition.
It comes as regulators across the world continue to ground the Boeing aircraft.
Yesterday, Russia, Japan and Tunisia banned the jet from its airspace. Late on Wednesday, the US Federal Aviation Administration told the country’s airlines to ground their fleets, but was criticised for not doing it sooner.
Sunday’s crash, shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, killed 157 people from 35 nations. It was the second crash involving a 737 Max in six months and some people have pointed to similarities between the incidents.
Some experts have cited satellite data and evidence from the crash scene as showing links between Sunday’s disaster and October’s crash in Indonesia of Lion Air jet that killed 189 people.
Possible similarities between the accidents, focusing on the aircraft’s anti-stall system, have shocked the aviation industry and raised questions over Boeing’s, and the FAA’s, insistence earlier this week the Max 737 was safe to fly.
A software fix for the 737 Max that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday.
In addition to Max aircraft in service, another 5,000 are on order from airlines. Garuda Indonesia said there was a possibility it would cancel its 20-strong order for Max jets, depending on what the FAA does.
A BEA spokesman said he did not know what condition the black boxes were in. “First we will try to read the data,” the spokesman said, adding that the first analyses could take between half a day and several days.
There have been reports, including by Reuters, that there was a tussle over which safety authority would take the lead in examining the black boxes.
Reports said Germany was initially asked to conduct the analysis because Ethiopian Airlines had been unhappy at the way the Paris-based organisation had investigated a crash in Lebanon in 2010.
Britain and the US both have highly-respected crash investigation agencies.
How long the analysis by the BEA will take depends on a number of things.