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Ethiopian Airlines pilot ‘reported problems after takeoff'

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH: All 157 people on board Sunday's flight died

THE PILOT of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, complained of control problems before the plane fell out the sky, the airline’s chief executive has said.

While he did not allude to bird strikes or external problems, the pilot had made a request to return to Bole airport in Addis Ababa, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The pilot’s reported concerns, which were communicated to air traffic controllers, were revealed by the Ethiopian Airlines chief executive.

The fatal crash, which occurred just minutes after the plane left Addis Ababa for Nairobi, Kenya, is the second major incident involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 model in less than five months.

In October, 189 people died when a Lion Air flight involving the same model crashed off Indonesia.

In response to the most recent crash, which has raised further concerns over the safety of the aircraft, a number of countries, including the UK and all members of the European Union, have grounded flights using the model.

The move is one that tallies with what the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, has said.

Gebremariam has called for all of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 planes to be grounded until they are deemed safe to fly, the BBC has reported.

“Extreme precaution” was needed, the BBC reported Gebremariam said.

Officials in the US, where Boeing is headquartered, have said the model is safe.

Daniel K Elwell, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said: “The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX. Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”

He added: “In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”

Boeing has also reiterated its confidence in the aircraft.

In a statement released yesterday, it said: “Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets.

“The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

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