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What We Know About the Ethiopian Plane Crash, and What We Don’t

Any airline disaster demands explanation, but the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday — the second in less than five months by the same new model of plane — raises more than the usual questions and fears.


Shortly after the Boeing 737 Max 8 took off from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, bound for Nairobi, Kenya, the pilot sent a distress call and received permission to return to the airport. Six minutes after takeoff, the jet plunged to earth, killing all 157 people aboard.

这架前往肯尼亚内罗毕的波音737 Max 8客机从埃塞俄比亚首都亚的斯亚贝巴起飞后不久,飞行员便发出了求救信号并获准返回机场。起飞后6分钟,飞机栽向地面,机上157人全部遇难。

Here is a look at what we know about the disaster — and what we still don’t.


What caused the crash?


It is much too soon to say why the plane went down, or to rule out possibilities like pilot error, mechanical breakdown, maintenance problems or terrorism.


The “black box” flight data and voice recorders were recovered, the airline said on Monday, but the information in them can take weeks or months to analyze. Investigators still have not said what was learned from the recorders recovered after a previous 737 Max 8 crash, in Indonesia in October.

埃航周一称,俗称“黑匣子”的飞行数据记录和驾驶舱通话记录仪已寻获,但分析其中的信息可能需要花费数周或数月的时间。在前一架737 Max 8客机10月于印度尼西亚坠毁后,调查人员至今仍未说明从已找到的记录仪中了解到了什么内容。

In aviation disasters, early speculation often turns out to be misguided. The causes may end up being problems that were unexpected, perhaps because they had rarely been encountered.


Investigations sometimes take years.


The investigation into the Lion Air crash has focused on the possibility that aircraft software put the plane into a dive, overriding the flight crew’s manual controls, based on incorrect data about the jet’s speed.


That has raised questions about whether the computer system — which differs from earlier models of 737 — was flawed, or whether pilots have been adequately told about changes to it and trained. There are also questions about whether the plane’s instruments were properly maintained.


纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/

But as yet, there is no evidence that the same issues recurred in the Ethiopian flight.


How is this like the Lion Air crash? How does it differ?


There are some obvious similarities between the disasters in Ethiopia and Indonesia, but significant differences, as well.


The crews on both flights issued distress calls minutes after take off, before their aircraft plunged to the ground.


But the civil war next door to Ethiopia, in Somalia, raises the possibility that terrorism, not mechanical failure, was to blame. The Shabab, the militant Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, has mounted attacks on both Ethiopia and Kenya, and the United States has stepped up its airstrikes on the group.


A witness has said that smoke was streaming from the jet while it was still aloft, though that could indicate any number of things.


There are also big differences between the airlines involved in the two crashes. Ethiopian Airlines has a generally good safety record, while Lion Air’s is poor.


The Lion Air flight had an experienced pilot and co-pilot, each with more than 5,000 hours of flying time. The pilot of the Ethiopian flight was highly experienced, too — but the co-pilot was remarkably inexperienced, with just 200 hours.


It is not clear who was at the controls when the jet went down.<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->


Which airlines fly this plane? Which have grounded it?


On Monday, China and Indonesia ordered their airlines to ground their 737 Max 8’s, at least temporarily. A handful of other airlines, including Ethiopian, have also suspended its use.

周一,中国和印度尼西亚下令其航空公司停飞737 Max 8客机,至少是暂时停飞。另有包括埃航在内的少数几家航空公司也暂停了该机型的运营。

But as of Monday, of the four dozen carriers that have the model in their fleets, about half continued to fly it. Those include the three largest users — Southwest Airlines, Air Canada and American Airlines — and other Western companies like WestJet, a Canadian carrier; TUI Group, a European line; and Norwegian Air.

截止到周一,在梯队中有该机型的48家运营商中,约半数仍在继续使用该机型。这些公司包括三家最大的用户——西南航空(Southwest Airlines)、加拿大航空(Air Canada)和美国航空(American Airlines);其他西方的航空公司还有加拿大运营商西捷航空(WestJet),欧洲航线的途易集团(TUI Group)以及挪威航空(Norwegian Air)。

Two of the largest carriers based in the United States, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, do not have the Boeing model.

总部位于美国的两家最大的运营商达美航空(Delta Air Lines)和美联航(United Airlines)没有该波音机型。

More than 350 Max 8’s have been delivered around the world.

全世界已交付Max 8超过350架。

Boeing introduced the 737 more than 50 years ago, and more than 10,000 have been built, making it the most widely used airliner in the world. But it has undergone so many changes over the years that earlier models have little in common with newer ones.


The Max 8 entered commercial service in 2017, the first model of a fourth generation of the 737 that is more technologically advanced and fuel-efficient than predecessors. The model’s newness makes it difficult to make meaningful comparisons with more established planes that have flown millions of times.

Max 8作为第四代737的第一款于2017年投入商用,比先前的机型技术更先进,燃油效率也更高。由于机型太新,很难与已飞行过数百万次的传统机型进行有意义的比较。

Models from the 737’s second generation, introduced in the 1980s, and the third generation, first produced in the 1990s, are among the world’s most popular and safest airliners.


Who are the victims?


The people killed in the Ethiopia crash came from more than 30 countries. They included at least 22 United Nations employees, some of them headed to a U.N. Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi.


Other victims included aid workers, professors, diplomats, entrepreneurs and consultants.


As of Monday, 32 were identified as Kenyan and 18 as Canadian. Ethiopia and France each lost nine citizens; the United States, China and Italy each lost eight, and Britain lost seven.




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