More airlines ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after crash

HEJERE, Ethiopia (AP) — More airlines grounded a new Boeing
plane involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, but Boeing said it has no
reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies, and it does not intend to
issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

Some airlines cited worried customers for grounding the
Boeing 737 Max 8, as experts chased details on why the plane crashed shortly
after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 on board.

Ethiopian Airlines had issued no new updates on the crash as
of late afternoon as families around the world waited for answers. Some
insights into the disaster and its cause could take months, aviation experts
said.

The U.K., Oman and South Korean airline Eastar Jet were the
latest to halt use of the Boeing 373 Max 8. Australia and Singapore suspended
all flights into or out of their countries.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it expects
Boeing will soon complete improvements to an automated anti-stall system
suspected of contributing to the deadly crash of another new Boeing 737 Max 8
in October, and update training requirements and related flight crew manuals.

Safety experts have cautioned against drawing too many comparisons
too soon with a Lion Air crash of the same model that killed 189 people in
Indonesia last year.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed in clear weather six
minutes after taking off for Nairobi.

One witness told the Associated Press that he saw smoke coming
from the plane’s rear before it crashed in a field. “The plane rotated two
times in the air, and it had some smoke coming from the back, then it hit the
ground and exploded,” farmer Tamrat Abera said.

It should take five days before any victims’ remains are
identified, Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw told the AP. The dead
came from 35 countries and included dozens of humanitarian workers.

A pilot who saw the crash site minutes after the disaster
told the AP the plane appeared to have “slid directly into the ground.”

Capt. Solomon Gizaw was among the first people dispatched to
find the crash site, which was discovered by Ethiopia’s air force.

“There was nothing to see,” he said. “It
looked like the earth had swallowed the aircraft. … We were surprised!”
He said it explained why rescue officials quickly sent bulldozers to begin
digging out large pieces of the plane.

Investigators on Monday found the jetliner’s two flight
recorders at the crash site. An airline official, however, told the AP one
recorder was partially damaged.

“The engine is here, the wreckage, the humans, the
flesh and remains, still we are collecting,” one investigator at the site,
Amdey Fanta, said Tuesday.

Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed
airline, grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice as “an
extra safety precaution.” The carrier had been using five of the planes
and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.

Airlines in China and Indonesia, Aeromexico, Brazil’s Gol
Airlines, India’s Jet Airways and others also have temporarily grounded their
737 Max 8s.

As the global team searched for answers, a woman stood near
the crash site, wailing.

Kebebew Legess said she was the mother of a young Ethiopian
Airlines crew member among the dead.

“She would have been 25 years old, but God would not
allow her,” she wept. “My daughter, my little one.”
___

Meseret reported from Addis Ababa.

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