Ethiopian Airlines crash has 'suspicious links' to October's Lion Air crash - aviation expert

  • 11/03/2019

An aviation expert says there are "suspicious links" between Sunday night's Ethiopian Airlines crash and October's Lion Air crash, which involved the same model aircraft.

One-hundred and fifty-seven people died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, six minutes after the plane took off from the country's capital, Addis Ababa. The plane model was a Boeing 737 MAX 8.

A 737 MAX 8 belonging to Indonesian carrier Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in October 2018 just 13 minutes after take-off, killing all 189 people onboard.

Former US Department of Transport Inspector General Mary Schiavo told The AM Show this morning that there is serious concern for the safety of the model following the two crashes.

"It's typical to have a learning curve with new aircraft but not like this, not losing not one but now two of the new aircraft. That goes against experience and safety statistics for new aircraft so that puts the 737 MAX under a cloud."

She said both planes had reported the same problems before crashing.

"They had problems gaining altitude and that of course brings us back to Lion Air, the other 737 MAX crash back in October which was fighting the plane to keep its nose up.

"The air speed was right, but it didn't have the right angle of attack. There was a suspicious link."

Ms Schiavo said investigations were ongoing and investigators would not be ruling out the possibility of a different cause.

"The investigators will look at security, they'll look at the fuel, they'll look at possibility of an attack on the airplane, they won't rule out any kind of criminal activity as well."

She said there was no international body with the capacity to ground these planes worldwide.

"The International Civil Aviation Organisation out of Montreal, an offshoot of the United Nations, has the authority to examine things, issue inspection and air crash investigation protocols, but each nation has to adopt their own aviation safety regulations."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there was no indication that any New Zealanders were on the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

Air New Zealand doesn't operate any 737 MAX 8 planes, but Fiji Airways, Virgin Australia, Garuda, United Airlines, Air Canada and Air China do own the model.