Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The black boxes recovered from the Ethiopian Airlines crash site will be sent to Europe for further analysis, the airlines announced.
Flight ET 302, heading to Nairobi from Addis Ababa, crashed on Sunday, six minutes after taking off. All 157 people on board – 149 passengers and eight crew – died in the crash.
“The black boxes are going to Europe. The airline and the investigations bureau are currently meeting to determine which country,” Asrat Begashaw, Ethiopian Airlines spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
“There are several possible countries. We will make a decision very soon. Maybe this evening.”
Ethiopia is sending the black boxes abroad because the country lacks the facilities to carry out the necessary detailed analysis to determine the cause of the disaster which took place just over 50km outside the capital, Begashaw added.
While Ethiopia did not confirm which country it would send the black boxes to, later on Wednesday Germany’s Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU) – the agency responsible for investigating air accidents – ruled out analysing the boxes.
“This is a new type of aircraft with a new black box, with new software,” said Germout Freitag, a BFU spokesman. “We can’t do it.”
The crash was the second involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model in five months.
In October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in Indonesia 10 minutes after take-off, killing 189 people. The cause of that accident is still under investigation.
Families that Al Jazeera spoke to said the move by Ethiopian Airlines to ground the plane model came too late.
“Something should have been done earlier,” said Bayih Demessie, husband of one the eight crew members killed in the crash.
However, the country’s top aviation official told Al Jazeera that they could not have acted any sooner.
“We grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 now because our suspicion about its safety has increased after this accident. That was not the case before,” said Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw, director general of Ethiopia’s civil aviation authority.
Before Sunday’s disaster, more than 370 jets of the model were in operation.
Following the latest crash, the European Union and several countries banned the aircraft model from their airspace. From the UK to Australia, a raft of countries and airlines across the world have also moved to ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
Boeing, the world’s biggest aircraft maker, maintains the 737 MAX 8 planes are safe to fly adding that they have “full confidence” in the jet.
Meanwhile, four days after the fatal accident families are still waiting for the bodies of their loved ones that died in the accident.
“The bodies have not been released to the families because tests are still been carried out to determine the identities due to the conditions we found the bodies in,” Asrat said.
“Also, there is an active investigation that is going on. We hope to release it to the families in the coming days,” he added.