Preliminary data retrieved from the flight data recorder of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed shows “a clear similarity” with an earlier crash in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister has said.
“The black box has been found in a good condition that enabled us to extract almost all the data inside,” Dagmawit Moges told reporters on Sunday evening.
The parallels would be the “subject of further study during the investigation”, with a preliminary report to be issued in “30 days”, she added.
Officials say 157 people from 35 different countries were killed when the Nairobi-bound plane crashed shortly after takeoff on March 11.
A number of countries and airlines have now grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8s.
The company now faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes that killed 346 people in less than six months.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already said satellite-based tracking data showed that the movements of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.
The planes in both crashes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both pilots reported flight control problems and tried to return to the airports but crashed.
In the case of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the black boxes have been handed to France’s BEA air safety agency, which is working with US and Ethiopian investigators to determine what went wrong.
US officials said the FAA and US safety agency NTSB have not yet validated data from the black boxes.