France’s BEA To Analyze Recorders from Ill-fated 737 Max

 - March 14, 2019, 2:59 PM

France’s Bureau of Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) will download and analyze the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed on March 10 shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The data will prove critical in determining what caused the four-month-old Boeing 737 Max 8 to plunge to the ground less than 10 minutes after taking off, and whether the causes mirror or resemble those of the October 29 fatal accident of a Lion Air Max 8 off Indonesia.

The BEA confirmed via its Twitter account that the Ethiopian authorities had asked for its assistance in the investigation, adding that responsibility for any communication on the process lies with those authorities.

A contingent of investigators led by an Ethiopian delegation of the country’s Aircraft Accident Investigations Bureau transported the recorders to Paris, Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday. They then handed them over to BEA headquarters in Le Bourget later in the day. The BEA did not respond to a request for comment by AIN about the reason Ethiopian authorities chose it to do the analysis.

The Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigations Bureau, in accordance with the standards defined in International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13, leads the investigation; however, Ethiopia lacks the ability to download and read the data from the Max 8 flight recorders, prompting the body to look to third countries for help. An official of the Ethiopian civil aviation authority, insisting on anonymity, told AIN earlier in the week the flight recorders most likely would go to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. for analysis given Ethiopia’s historic aviation link with the U.S. However, it also considered the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Germany’s Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU). The BFU did not accept because it does not have the equipment needed to analyze the Max jet’s new flight recorders and software, Reuters reported.

The NTSB said today that it would send three investigators to France to assist with the downloading and analysis of flight recorders, noting that “the NTSB investigators have expertise in recorders, flight crew operations, and human factors.” The NTSB investigators dispatched to France will work in coordination with investigators on the ground in Addis Ababa. Those investigators—dispatched to Addis Ababa immediately after the accident—have played an integral role in the efforts underway in Ethiopia. Technical advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, and GE/Safran—the manufacturer of the Max airplane’s CFM Leap-1B engines—have also participated.