U.S. air safety officials are assisting in the investigation into the crash of a Ethiopian Airlines plane bound for Nairobi that crashed Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, including eight Americans.
Both the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will take part in the probe, officials said.
Though the flight did not originate in the United States, it was the second fatal crash recently involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 model. Boeing is based in Chicago. The same model aircraft was involved in the Lion Air crash in October. That plane crashed into the waters off the coast of Java, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
Although it was too soon to determine the exact cause of the Ethiopian Air crash, the plane, which was brand-new, showed a similar flight path to the one in the Indonesia crash.
An NTSB spokesman said the investigative agency is sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Those individuals, including an accident investigator and others providing technical expertise, will serve as what the investigative agency calls “accredited representatives” to the investigation because Boeing is a domestic manufacturer.
The group being sent to Ethiopia is smaller than a typical go-team that would be sent to a crash on U.S. soil, which could consist of a dozen to 25 people, but Ethiopian authorities are conducting a sweeping investigation of the crash.
It was too early to know what could come of the investigation, including what safety directives might be issued for the aircraft involved in the crash, officials said. A faulty sensor was cited in the Lion Air crash, though authorities have not yet completed their investigation.
Officials said the “angle of attack” sensor was the component involved in the Lion Air crash, causing the plane to dip whenever pilots attempted to adjust the plane’s pitch. The sensor repeatedly read that the plane was too high, even when it wasn’t, and sent it plummeting during repeated attempts to correct its course. The aircraft eventually crashed into the Java Sea. Preliminary data showed the Ethiopian Airlines flight following a similar flight path.
Ethiopian Airlines said its investigators, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and the Ethiopian Transport Authority will conduct the investigation “in collaboration with all stakeholders including the aircraft manufacturer Boeing” to determine the crash’s cause.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a brief statement saying it was planning to assist in the investigation of the crash, which killed eight Americans and 18 Canadians.
“The FAA is closely monitoring developments in the Ethiopian Flight 302 crash early this morning,” the agency said in a statement. “We are in contact with the State Department and plan to join the NTSB in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash.”
This is a developing story.
Paul Schemm contributed to this report.