The pilot of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 told controllers he was having control problems before the Boeing jet crashed, according to an account of cockpit voice recordings from the airline’s chief executive.

No bird strikes or external problems were mentioned by the pilot, who requested permission to return to Bole airport in Addis Ababa within minutes of takeoff. The pilot “reported back to air traffic controllers that he was having flight control problems”, but cited no other issues, Tewolde GebreMariam told the Wall Street Journal.

The airline is planning to send the 737 Max 8 plane’s flight data recorder to Europe for analysis, rather than the US, GebreMariam said.

Flight 302, bound for Nairobi, plunged to the ground shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people onboard. It was the second crash involving the 737 Max 8 model in less than five months, after the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, which killed 189 people in October.

Although no evidence has yet linked the crashes, pilots reported problems on both planes moments after takeoff and asked to make emergency landings.

European regulators have already grounded the model, along with China, Australia, India and others around the world. However, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, along with US airlines, have continued to maintain the 737 Max is safe to fly.

The manufacturer is to face a slew of compensation claims from airlines around the world whose 737 Max fleets have been grounded.

Norwegian Air said it would be pursuing the US manufacturer for costs and lost revenue after being forced to take 18 planes out of service, as the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and the European Aviation Safety Agency banned the Max 8. Dozens of flights have been cancelled at the airline, which is already in a precarious financial situation. Norwegian told Reuters: “We expect Boeing to take this bill.”

Source: Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent
For The Guardian

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