Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX Black Box Found – Here’s What We Know

Breaking news out of Ethiopia, as the black box of a Boeing 737 MAX which came down after takeoff has been recovered. According to Ethiopia’s state television network, the cockpit voice recorder from the flight was retrieved. There is no news as to whether the Flight Data Recorder has been found at this time.

The Ethiopian Airlines 737MAX came down roughly six minutes after takeoff yesterday morning. The accident occurred at 0844 local time, 0544UTC. All 157 onboard the flight have reportedly passed away in the incident.

Ethiopian 737
An Ethiopian 737 (not pictured) crashed on departure from Addis Ababa yesterday morning. Photo: Boeing

Update 1109UTC

Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed that both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have been recovered. These will now be securely transported to a lab where they will be analysed as investigators try to establish the sequence of events that led to the aircraft crashing shortly after take off.

Black box

Black boxes from retired aircraft seen at Pima Air and Space Museum. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

What Do We Know So Far?

As with any major accident, details can take a while to trickle through. This can lead to speculation, and in the worst cases, fake news spreading.

So far we know that the aircraft involved was a six month old Boeing 737 MAX. The aircraft, registered as ET-AVJ, was operating flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

157 people were onboard the aircraft. This included eight crew and 149 passengers. The full list of nationalities on board includes:

  • 32 Kenyans
  • 18 Canadians
  • 9 Ethiopians
  • 8 Chinese
  • 8 Americans
  • 7 Brits
  • 7 French
  • 6 Egyptians
  • 5 German
  • 4 Slovakians
  • 4 Indians
  • 3 Russians
  • 3 Swedish
  • 3 Austrian
  • 2 Moroccans
  • 2 Israelis
  • 2 Spanish
  • 2 Polish
  • 1 Belgian
  • 1 Djiboutian
  • 1 Indonesian
  • 1 Irish
  • 1 Mozambican
  • 1 Norwegian
  • 1 Rwandan
  • 1 Saudi Arabian
  • 1 Sudanese
  • 1 Somalian
  • 1 Serbian
  • 1 from Togo
  • 1 Ugandan
  • 1 Yemeni
  • 1 Nepalese
  • 1 Nigerian
  • 1 traveller on a UN passport

Updated with official passenger list from Ethiopian Airlines

Similarities To Lion Air

Yesterday’s accident seems to have a number of similarities to a Lion Air accident. While it is important to stress there is currently no solid link between the two accidents, they do share some similarities. Both aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff.

Boeing 737 MAX
A Lion Air 737 MAX 8 was in a similar accident in October 2018. Photo: Boeing

The aircraft accident appears to have been caused by inaccurate readings from the Angle of Attack indicator. This lead to the computers trimming the nose down.

Simple Flying’s Jay recently travelled on a Fiji Airways 737 MAX 8. He reported “after a few minutes, when we were at about 4-5,000 feet, something interesting happened. We levelled off a bit sharply and had a nose dive with engines at almost idle. It was not a very significant nosedive, maybe a couple of hundred feet at most, but enough to get a frequent flier and avgeek a little rattled”

We will have to wait for the black box investigation before we can jump to conclusions about the accident yesterday, however, some countries appear to be grounding the 737 MAX 8 out of caution.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated by the Simple Flying team as the story develops.