PARIS: Two black boxes from the Boeing 737 MAX airplane that crashed in Ethiopia arrived on Thursday in Paris for expert analysis, officials said, as regulators around the world awaited word on whether it was safe to resume flying the jets.
A spokesman for France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said the flight data and cockpit voice recorders would be handed over to the agency later in the day.
Their data are critical to finding out what caused the brand new aircraft to plunge to the ground shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Following the lead of other global aviation regulators unnerved by the second crash involving a 737 MAX in less than five months, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued orders on Wednesday for the planes to be grounded.
Boeing, which maintained that its planes were safe to fly, said in a statement that it supported the FAA move.
“Boeing has determined – out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety – to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”
The FAA along with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Ethiopian civil aviation authority, and Boeing, have been investigating the crash at the site, some 60 km (around 40 miles) outside the Ethiopian capital.
On Thursday morning in Addis Ababa, grieving relatives of some of the 157 victims of Sunday’s air disaster boarded buses for a three-hour journey to the crash site.
Others described their visit on Wednesday to the arid farmland where the passenger jet crashed.
“We saw where he died and touched the earth,” said Sultan Al-Mutairi, who had come from Riyadh to mourn his brother, Saad, who ran a recruitment agency in Nairobi and perished in the crash.
Experts say it could take weeks or months to identify the victims, as their remains were scattered, charred and in fragments due to the impact of the crash and ensuing fire.