Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on Sunday shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft was the same type involved in the Indonesia Lion Air Flight 610 crash five months earlier.
Despite some similarities between the two crashes, aviation expert Peter Lemme talking to Scientific American believes they are unrelated.
Both flights appeared to have difficulties sustaining a normal climb, and fell shortly after takeoff.
A possible cause of the Indonesia crash was a malfunction in the automated anti-stalling feature called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.
According to Scientific American, because Boeing outfitted the Max with bigger engines, their placement relative to the plane's center of gravity causes a tendency for the nose to tip upward.
The MCAS is designed to automatically push the nose back down when this happens, preventing the aircraft from stalling, or losing lift.
In the case of Lion Air, experts suspect a faulty sensor may have triggered MCAS to engage when the plane was flying normally, causing the nose to repeatedly dip.
Using data from FlightRadar24, Lemme studied how Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 flew in the six minutes before disappearing from radar.
With Flight 302, the plane got to 1,000 feet, which at that point lost about 400 feet of altitude. The plane then flew level for about 30 seconds, about 500 to 600 feet above the ground, which according to Lemme is not normal.
The airspeed continued to increase to over 300 knots at under 1,000 feet above ground. After that 30-second period, the plane began to climb normally until they disappeared from radar.
Now that the black boxes have been recovered from Flight 302, investigators will see what information they reveal about the cause of the crash. (Next Animation via Reuters)
|Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, March 11, 2019. A spokesman says Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as a safety precaution, following the crash of one of its planes in which 157 people were killed. AP|
|Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn and grieve at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Thursday, March 14, 2019. AP|