Indonesia

FILE PHOTO: Uber's logo is displayed on a mobile phone
FILE PHOTO: Uber’s logo is displayed on a mobile phone, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Munsif Vengattil

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc is six months into a major mapping project that fills holes in its coverage of Middle Eastern cities ahead of a possible takeover of regional rival Careem Networks and this year’s hotly anticipated initial public offering, according to a source with knowledge of the project.

A team of 28 engineers and other staff, working for Indian tech sector outsourcer Wipro, are on the verge of completing detailed mapping of businesses and public buildings in Saudi Arabian cities and have been asked to accelerate work as the company eyes a stock market launch in April, the source said.

The team in the Indian city of Hyderabad has also recently been entrusted with mapping Egypt and is under pressure to speed up the work, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

The costly and time-consuming exercise is vital to moves to scale up in what has become a crucial market for Uber, with the takeover of Dubai-based Careem and progress there a litmus test of Uber’s global ambitions after ceding other Asian countries to local competitors.

It may also have served to bolster the company’s position in talks on buying Careem, which other sources told Reuters on Sunday may announce a $3 billion takeover this week.

Mapping is a largely manual process done one block and one neighborhood at a time, requiring heavy investment, and the data must be updated regularly. Maps are the foundation of ride-hailing apps that shuttle passengers from one point to another via a navigation app.

Careem, which operates in the Middle East, Africa and southern Asia, had said previously it was 45,000 miles into mapping the region, saying that shortfalls in Google Maps in the Middle East coverage had forced it to spend on the project.

PICK-UPS

Normally Uber uses a mix of mapping resources, relying heavily on Google Maps and augmenting its knowledge of streets and pickup points using its own mapping cars and equipment carried by Uber drivers in their vehicles.

Uber’s website says its dedicated mapping cars are currently working only in Canada and around a dozen U.S. states, having previously mapped the UK, France, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Columbia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Brazil.

Uber said the team in India was curating “Places” mapping data in Saudi Arabia to back up the necessary field work as it seeks to create its own set of locations against which it can easily search for pick-ups and drop-offs. It is different from vector mapping data and is a database of trip destinations, the company said.

Uber said it had not started work in Egypt.

According to the source, the process at Wipro is threefold; beginning from validation of existing data, to verification of new data collected from fieldwork and finally manually tagging each business and establishment on the proprietary map.

The fieldwork is done by Uber’s people on the ground, who go from business to business and take pictures from all the exterior sides of a building, a requirement in tagging the location of an establishment. Workers at Wipro use official websites and social media handles, as well as other resources, to fact-check data, the source said.

Wipro said it does not comment on specific client engagements. It was not clear whether Uber had agreements with other outsourcers for mapping the region.

In the run-up to its initial public offering next month, Uber is expected to tout its global reach and strong overseas markets to investors as a differentiation from U.S. rival Lyft.

An Uber purchase of Careem, after it gave up on markets in China, Southeast Asia and Russia in the face of strong local startups, has put the Middle East at the heart of that narrative.

A tie-up with Careem would also allow both companies to stop spending so heavily on infrastructure, as well as subsidizing rides for passengers and poaching drivers with bonuses, which have generated losses for both firms.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Writing by Patrick Graham; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight/File Photo

March 23, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets were heading to Boeing Co’s factory in Renton, Washington, to review a software upgrade on Saturday, even as Southwest Airlines Co began parking its 34 MAXs near the California desert.

The factory visits indicate Boeing may be nearing completion of a planned software patch for its newest 737 following a fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October, but the timing for a resumption of passenger flights on the jets remains uncertain.

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve the software fix and new training, are under U.S. and global scrutiny since the MAX suffered a second deadly crash involving Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa on March 10, which led to a worldwide grounding of the fleet.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, said it has been in talks with Boeing, the FAA and airlines to get the airplanes flying again as soon as possible, albeit with an acceptable level of safety.

“Right now we’re in wait and see mode to see what Boeing comes up with,” Captain Jason Goldberg, a spokesman for APA, said on Saturday. “We’re hopeful, but at the same time the process can’t be rushed.”

APA is among a delegation of airline safety experts and pilots set to test Boeing’s software upgrade, meant to change how much authority is given to a new anti-stall system developed for the 737 MAX, in Renton.

The system, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, is suspected of playing a role in both disasters, which together killed 346 people.

Both crashes are still under investigation.

Southwest, the largest operator of the MAX in the world, and United Airlines said they would also review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updates on Saturday. United has 14 MAXs while American has 24.

Meanwhile, Southwest said it was starting to move on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, while the global grounding remains in effect.

“The planes being in one place will be more efficient for performing the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft, as well as any future software enhancements that need to take place,” spokeswoman Brandy King said.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN


People take part in the “March for Love” at North Hagley Park after the mosque attacks in Christchurch, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 23, 2019

By Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – About 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a ‘march for love’ early on Saturday, honoring the 50 worshippers massacred in the New Zealand city a week ago, as the mosques where the shooting took place reopened for prayers.

Carrying placards with signs such as, “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” – Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

With armed police on site, the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, reopened on Saturday. Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque as well.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” Ashif Shaikh told reporters outside the Al Noor mosque. He said he was there on the day of the shooting in which two of his housemates were killed.

Most victims of the country’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

At Saturday’s march security was heavy, with dozens of armed police officers and buses parked sideways across city streets to close them off for the march.

Shila Nair, a migrant from India who works for a migrant advocacy group called Shakti, traveled from Auckland to take part in the march.

“The support gives us hope and optimism that migrant and refugee communities in this country can have a level playing field,” she said.

“We appreciate the solidarity, but it must be carried on. It cannot be allowed to fizzle out. This is how social change happens.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism and has participated in many of the tributes and funerals for the victims, has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles, some of the guns used by the shooter.

Ardern and New Zealand have been widely praised for the outpouring of empathy and unity and the response to the attacks. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thanked her on Twitter late on Friday.

“Thank you @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world,” he said on Twitter.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On Friday the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio and about 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite Al Noor mosque in a show of solidarity.

Many women have also donned headscarves to show their support.

In Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, a special prayer was held after the Friday sermon for the victims of the attack, according to the Saudi news website Sabq.

Most of the dead were laid to rest at a mass burial in Christchurch on Friday, when 26 victims were interred. Others have been buried at private ceremonies, or repatriated to their home countries for funerals.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, told Reuters that she would bring his body back to Bangladesh.

“I don’t know when our family will be able to come out of this grief,” she said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Joseph Campbell, Natasha Howitt and Jill Gralow in Christchurch, Hesham Hajali in Cairo, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Writing by Tom Westbrook and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN


People take part in the “March for Love” at North Hagley Park after the mosque attacks in Christchurch, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 23, 2019

By Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – About 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a ‘march for love’ early on Saturday, honoring the 50 worshippers massacred in the New Zealand city a week ago, as the mosques where the shooting took place reopened for prayers.

Carrying placards with signs such as, “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” – Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

With armed police on site, the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, reopened on Saturday. Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque as well.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” Ashif Shaikh told reporters outside the Al Noor mosque. He said he was there on the day of the shooting in which two of his housemates were killed.

Most victims of the country’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

At Saturday’s march security was heavy, with dozens of armed police officers and buses parked sideways across city streets to close them off for the march.

Shila Nair, a migrant from India who works for a migrant advocacy group called Shakti, traveled from Auckland to take part in the march.

“The support gives us hope and optimism that migrant and refugee communities in this country can have a level playing field,” she said.

“We appreciate the solidarity, but it must be carried on. It cannot be allowed to fizzle out. This is how social change happens.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism and has participated in many of the tributes and funerals for the victims, has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles, some of the guns used by the shooter.

Ardern and New Zealand have been widely praised for the outpouring of empathy and unity and the response to the attacks. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thanked her on Twitter late on Friday.

“Thank you @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world,” he said on Twitter.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On Friday the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio and about 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite Al Noor mosque in a show of solidarity.

Many women have also donned headscarves to show their support.

In Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, a special prayer was held after the Friday sermon for the victims of the attack, according to the Saudi news website Sabq.

Most of the dead were laid to rest at a mass burial in Christchurch on Friday, when 26 victims were interred. Others have been buried at private ceremonies, or repatriated to their home countries for funerals.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, told Reuters that she would bring his body back to Bangladesh.

“I don’t know when our family will be able to come out of this grief,” she said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Joseph Campbell, Natasha Howitt and Jill Gralow in Christchurch, Hesham Hajali in Cairo, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Writing by Tom Westbrook and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Ethiopians search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopians search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 22, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A child’s foot. Fingers. A passport.

Body parts and personal effects were still strewn across the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 15, a witness told Reuters, five days after the disaster and the day before recovery efforts were halted.

With the site now fenced off, bereaved families are worried the remains of their loved ones may be left at the scene, compounding their anguish.

Citizens of 35 nations were aboard when the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet nosedived into a field on March 10 six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard.

Families of those who perished complain of a lack of information about recovery efforts, which saw Ethiopian workers using metal parts of the aircraft to dig in the soil.

Religions such as Islam and Judaism require quick burials, but authorities said last week that identifying remains – many burned or in small pieces – might take six months.

“At the beginning, (the Ethiopian authorities) should have blocked off that place and sent an organized team to search, instead of just leaving it open. I’m unhappy about that. It’s supposed to be easier if it’s in the government’s hands,” said Milka Yimam, a dual Ethiopia-Israeli citizen whose 26-year-old son Sidrak died.

Relatives of the victims who visited the site on Monday said it had been cordoned off and the ground leveled, apart from the impact crater. The dead included a grand-niece of consumer advocate and former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Excavation was halted last Saturday, ministry of transport spokesman Musie Yehyies told Reuters.

“Excavation has ended for the moment since we have got everything we think we need at the moment. The site has been enclosed and can be revisited,” he said on Friday.

Global attention has mostly shifted to an investigation into the cause of the disaster, and similarities with the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX plane in Indonesia last October that killed 189 people. Pilots of both aircraft reported control problems and crashed minutes after take-off.

The world’s entire 737 MAX fleet was grounded after the Ethiopia crash, with Boeing losing about 12 percent – or $28 billion – of its market value since the disaster.

But as headlines focus on the investigation and its financial fallout, families fear the spotlight has shifted from recovery efforts.

DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE

Israelis whose bodies are not recovered are officially listed at home as “disappeared” rather than “dead” – a status that can cause complications for relatives in matters ranging from inheritance to remarrying.

Some Jewish traditions also require a piece of the body be buried before mourning can begin, with the soul not able to rest until then, giving the families’ quest an agonizing urgency.

So the Israeli embassy has been working hard to retrieve the remains of its two citizens who died in the crash, families told Reuters.

But it hasn’t been easy. After being bounced between various government ministries, the ambassador eventually wrote to the airline to get access to the crash site, a source familiar with matter said. He got no reply – until the Israeli prime minister intervened by phoning his Ethiopian counterpart.

The ambassador and representatives of Israeli volunteer rescue and recovery organization ZAKA were finally able to access the site last Friday. They have not been allowed back.

The embassy said on Thursday ZAKA had been told it could not return to retrieve remains due to a “procedural matter” and that Ethiopia did not want to grant access for other nations.

The Ethiopian ministries of transport and foreign affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

CONFUSION OVER PASSENGERS

An Interpol-led group of nations including Germany and Canada are supporting the DNA testing, three Addis Ababa-based diplomatic sources said. Ethiopia has also contracted British firm Blake Emergency Services to recover and return the remains. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

Remains recovered so far have been bagged and stored in an out-of-the-way area of Addis Ababa’s Bole airport, in refrigeration units usually used to store roses destined for export, before being moved to the capital’s St. Paul’s Hospital, two sources told Reuters.

Halting excavations could complicate matters for many countries, some of which are still unsure how many of their citizens were lost.

Although 18 of the victims have been identified as Canadian, others had connections to Canada, meaning its embassy has been supporting more families, said Canada’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Antoine Chevrier. Some were also dual nationals.

Ethiopian Airlines has not published the full passenger list with names and dates of birth. It did not respond to questions over when the list might be published.

Until that is done, confusion remains over dual nationals, and the citizenship of seven people onboard the flight is still not public, diplomats told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Jason Neely in Addis Ababa and Katharine Houreld in Nairobi; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

March 22, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc pilots expect to test Boeing Co’s 737 MAX software fix on the U.S. manufacturer’s simulators this weekend, officials from the pilots’ union told Reuters on Thursday, a key step in restoring pilots’ confidence in the aircraft after two fatal crashes.

Boeing has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Similarities between the flight path in the Lion Air incident and a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 have raised fresh questions about the system, and pilots want assurances that the update is solid. The two crashes killed everyone aboard both planes, a total of 346 people.

American is the second largest U.S. operator of the MAX, behind Southwest Airlines. United Airlines is the third U.S. carrier to operate the MAX.

“This airplane can be a safe airplane, and there have been great strides on getting a fix in the works, but I’ll have a better feel after we can test it out,” said Mike Michaelis, safety committee chairman of the Allied Pilots Association, or APA, which represent American Airline pilots.

Michaelis said one APA pilot and one pilot from American’s management team would test the software fix in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

Boeing declined to comment.

The MAX jets were grounded worldwide in the wake of the Ethiopian crash. For the aircraft to fly in the United States again, the Federal Aviation Administration must approve the planned software fix and new training, which pilots must complete.

Boeing also plans to offer as standard a safety feature that might have warned earlier of problems that possibly played a role in the two crashes.

As for training, Boeing has proposed new computer-based training on the software update, followed by a mandatory test.

Jon Weaks, head of Southwest Airline’s pilots’ union, told members on Wednesday that the FAA-mandated training should be enhanced.

MAX simulator training is not required, partly because not many simulators exist.

Southwest and American, which operate 34 and 24 MAX jets, respectively, have said they expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Canada’s CAE Inc, the main simulator producer, said it has delivered nine of the simulators, which are now in high demand by airlines but take about a year to build. CAE expects to deliver 20 more in 2019.

“For now we want to get our safety experts in these unicorn simulators to show us what the software fix does,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot. “When it comes to safely issues, it has to be a full-course meal, nothing a la carte.”

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa NegerI

March 21, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – At the headquarters of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, a paper sign balanced above room 107 and a threadbare square of carpet welcome a stream of foreign visitors to the Accident Investigation Bureau.

The office – with three investigators and an annual budget of less than 2.5 million Birr ($89,000) – is leading a multi-party, multi-nation probe into what caused an Ethiopian Airlines flight to crash on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.

Brusque foreign investigators in cargo pants and Ethiopians in suits or reflective vests wave away questions from reporters on how their inquiries are progressing.

This modest agency is under intense international scrutiny because the results of its investigation could have far-reaching consequences for the global aviation industry.

If the investigators highlight flaws in the 737 MAX 8 that echo a recent crash of the same model in Indonesia, their report could deal a major blow to Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter.

But if investigators find Ethiopian Airlines fell short in maintenance, training or piloting, that could damage one of Africa’s most successful companies, a symbol of Ethiopia’s emergence as a regional power.

Disagreements have broken out in Addis Ababa between Ethiopian authorities and foreign investigators over issues including the handling of evidence and crash site management, according to several sources close to the investigation.

Kevin Humphreys, a former Irish regulator who founded the country’s air investigation agency, told Reuters the high stakes involved tend to make probes like this one particularly tough.

“There are tensions because it is unrealistic to assume that international protocols are always going to work. There is a potentially important economic impact from such investigations.”

An 18-strong team of American investigators has been sent to aid the Ethiopians with the inquiry, including representatives from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which certified 737 MAX planes as safe.

U.S. and some other foreign investigators are unhappy because Ethiopia is so far sharing only limited information, the sources said.

“There is no opportunity for the international community to benefit and learn from this,” said one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Some foreign officials are also unhappy about the prominent role Ethiopian Airlines played in the probe, suggesting a possible conflict of interests, they said.

But one Addis Ababa-based source said the carrier’s role in the investigation does not necessarily indicate it is trying to exert undue influence. The airline is more likely involved because it is the most well-funded and staffed state enterprise able to help the over-stretched inquiry team, he added.

“When you have a vacuum, someone has to fill it,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines’ spokesman Asrat Begachew said the carrier was supporting the investigation. “We are not taking the lead,” he added, declining to comment further.

Under global aviation rules, interested parties like airlines and manufacturers are discouraged from speaking publicly about the investigation.

Yet in the first days after the Flight 302 crash, Ethiopian Airlines made all of the public statements, including announcing the black box recorders would be sent overseas for data extraction.

It was not until six days after the tragedy that the Ministry of Transport began briefing the media and public.

Hours after the crash, Ethiopian Airlines tweeted a picture of its CEO Tewolde Gebremariam holding a piece of debris in the crater of the crash site, surprising aviation experts who said the site should have been preserved for investigators.

Musie Yehyies, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Transport, said the government had been quick to share information about the crash. He denied there was any mistrust between the Ethiopians and other parties.

“Our friendship with the United States is obvious,” he told Reuters. “Plenty of governments have been offering assistance, and some of them have helped practically.”

The ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the airline’s role in the investigation or any potential conflict of interest.

Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau and civil aviation authority, which fall under the transport ministry, declined to comment on the investigation or any grievances of parties involved.

Boeing, the FAA and the NTSB also declined to comment.

BLACK BOXES

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders were recovered the day after the crash, but it took Ethiopian investigators three days to decide where to send them for the information to be extracted and decoded. Like many fast-growing players, the Ethiopians do not have the technology to perform the task.

In a sign of the distrust between the parties, the Ethiopians turned down an American offer to perform the analysis in the United States, according to two sources.

U.S. authorities declined to comment.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde personally approached German authorities to request to send the black boxes to Germany to have the data extracted there, a separate source with knowledge of matter told Reuters. Airlines are not usually involved in such decisions, according to current and former investigators.

The airline could not comment on the investigation, a spokesman said in response to questions about the incident.

However German officials said they too did not have the most recent software needed to extract the data, so the devices were eventually sent to France.

Partial data from the flight data recorder was shared informally late on Monday with U.S. and French investigators in Paris, but nothing from the cockpit voice recorder, three sources familiar with the matter said.

It is common for the host investigator to closely guard voice recordings to protect privacy but unusual for relatively little data to be available a week after being downloaded.

“As an investigator, it is hard to understand the logic behind withholding safety-of-flight information,” Greg Feith, a former senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said on Facebook on Thursday.

Ethiopia said on Thursday it had begun analyzing cockpit data and was working with U.S. and European experts.

Following Ethiopian Airlines’ last major crash, outside Beirut in 2010, an investigation led by the Lebanese and to which France contributed blamed crew mismanagement of the aircraft and poor communication in the cockpit.

The airline – led by the same CEO as today – said the report was “biased, lacking evidence, incomplete,” pointing to evidence of an explosion on board.

HIGH STAKES

Most crash investigations end up pinpointing a combination of factors.

For decades, reconstructions by independent investigators have been credited with reducing air accidents to record low levels. The system of co-operation works by sticking to technical details and avoiding blame or other agendas.

Safety experts worry that too many turf battles can cloud the progress of an investigation.

“The sole purpose of an accident investigation is to reduce the chances of something ever happening again,” said Paul Hayes, safety director at the Flight Ascend Consultancy.

The Flight 302 crash triggered the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, wiping billions off the company’s market value. Also on the line are more than $500 billion worth of 737 MAX orders.

Ethiopian Airlines is regulated by the country’s civil aviation authority, but its resources are far more extensive. The carrier’s operating revenue in the 2017/18 financial year was $3.7 billion. This dwarfs the regulator’s budget, which is 360 million Birr ($12.5 million) for this fiscal year.

CRASH SITE

Responsibility for leading the probe fell to Ethiopia because the crash occurred on its soil. Nairobi-bound Flight 302 went down into farmland minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

The crash killed people from 35 countries, all of which are also entitled to examine the crash site and join in the investigation. America, China, Kenya, Britain, Canada, Israel, France and other nations have sent investigators.

Some nations were unhappy that Ethiopia was using heavy earth-moving equipment at the site, potentially damaging evidence or human remains, although others said that was the only way to move heavy items such as engines.

Some foreign officials also complained of being unable to access the site in the days after the crash.

After Israel’s team were not given permission to visit the site, the Israeli prime minister eventually called the Ethiopian prime minister on Wednesday, a statement on the Israeli prime minister’s website said. 

A permission letter – from Ethiopian Airlines – was issued late on Thursday for the Israeli ambassador and emergency response unit ZAKA, a source familiar with the incident added.

The European Union’s aviation safety agency, EASA, waited more than a week to be allowed to join the crash investigation.

“The Ethiopian investigation body is very keen to keep a very, very closed circle around the investigation,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told the European parliament on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Georgina Prodhan in Paris and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)

Source: OANN

Women attend a vigil for the victims of the mosque attacks during an ecumenical celebration in Christchurch
Women attend a vigil for the victims of the mosque attacks during an ecumenical celebration in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 21, 2019

By Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – New Zealanders prepared for nationwide prayers on Friday to mark one week since a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead thousands of mourners expected to gather at a park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died, for a prayer followed by two minutes of silence.

Ardern, who has labeled the attack as terrorism, announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws on Thursday.

The prime minister is expected to be accompanied in the Christchurch prayers with community leaders and other foreign dignitaries.

The Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast nationally across all free-to-air TV and radio stations.

Armed police have been guarding mosques around New Zealand since the attacks. Police said there would be a “heightened presence” on Friday to reassure those attending weekly prayers.

Candlelight vigils continued until late on Thursday across the country, while government officials worked through the night to prepare the mosque and the bodies of the deceased for a mass burial that expected after the prayers.

“All the bodies are washed. We finished around 1.30 a.m. this morning. It was our duty. After we finished there was a lot of emotion, people were crying and hugging,” said a body washer in Christchurch who gave his name as Mo.

Newspapers across the country ran full-page memorials with the names of the victims, and a call for national mourning.

“A call to prayer…in unity there is strength,” New Zealand Herald said on its front page.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has been charged with murder following the attack.

He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

Twenty-eight people wounded in the attacks remain in hospital, six in intensive care.

Most victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On social media, New Zealanders of all religions were being encouraged to wear headscarves on Friday to show their support for the Muslim community.

The #headscarfforharmony movement was trending on Twitter on Friday, with people posting photos of themselves in the Muslim attire.

(Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

A worker assists his colleague as an turbine engine of Lion Air flight JT610 is lifted up at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: A worker assists his colleague as an turbine engine of Lion Air flight JT610 is lifted up at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian investigators said on Thursday the cockpit voice recorder from a crashed Lion Air Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 jet showed pilots were searching for the right checklist in their handbooks and were experiencing airspeed and altitude issues.

The details revealed at a press conference corroborated a Reuters report on Wednesday that was based on three sources with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder’s contents.

Investigators said they have 90 percent of the data needed to release a final report on the October crash that killed 189 people, which is expected in August.

Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia’s national transportation committee (KNKT) said the recording showed there was “panic” in the cockpit in the last 20 seconds of the flight.

“At the end of the flight it seemed the pilot felt he could no longer recover the flight, then the panic emerged,” he said while declining to say which of the two pilots panicked.

The investigation has taken on new urgency after a second 737 MAX 8 crash at Ethiopian Airlines last week killed 157 people and led to the global grounding of the model.

French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air disaster.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana and Bernadette Christina Munthe; writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Airplane engine parts are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu
FILE PHOTO: Airplane engine parts are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Jason Neely

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The captain of a doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight was unable to practice on a new simulator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 before he died in a crash with 157 others, a pilot colleague said.

Yared Getachew, 29, was due for refresher training at the end of March, his colleague told Reuters, two months after Ethiopian Airlines had received the simulator.

The March 10 disaster, following another MAX 8 crash in Indonesia in October, has set off one of the biggest inquiries in aviation history, focused on whether pilots were sufficiently versed on a new automated system.

In both cases, the pilots lost control soon after take-off and fought a losing battle to stop their jets plunging down.

In the Ethiopian crash, it was not clear if Yared’s colleague – First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed, 25, who also died in the crash – had practiced on the new MAX simulator.

Globally, most commercial airline pilots refresh training in simulators every six months. It was not clear if Yared or Ahmednur would have been trained on the new simulator or an older one for 737s that their airline also owned.

The MAX, which came into service two years ago, has a new automated system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System). It is meant to prevent a loss of lift which can cause an aerodynamic stall sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.

“Boeing did not send manuals on MCAS,” the Ethiopian Airlines pilot told Reuters in a hotel lobby, declining to give his name as staff have been told not to speak in public.

“Actually we know more about the MCAS system from the media than from Boeing.”

Under unprecedented scrutiny and with its MAX fleet grounded worldwide, the world’s largest planemaker has said airlines were given guidance on how to respond to the activation of MCAS software. It is also promising a swift update to the system.

Ethiopian Airlines declined to comment on the remarks of its pilot to Reuters about the simulator and MCAS system.

(Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Writing by Jamie Freed and Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Indonesia's central bank, Bank Indonesia, is seen on a window in the bank's lobby in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Indonesia’s central bank, Bank Indonesia, is seen on a window in the bank’s lobby in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Iqro Rinaldi

March 21, 2019

By Gayatri Suroyo and Maikel Jefriando

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s central bank, welcoming the Federal Reserve’s forecast of no U.S. rate hikes this year, on Thursday kept its benchmark on hold to maintain financial stability while tweaking some rules to try to encourage more lending.

Bank Indonesia (BI) held its 7-day reverse repurchase rate steady at 6.00 percent, where it has been since November, as expected by all 20 analysts in a Reuters poll.

The decision came hours after the Fed abandoned projections for any rate hikes this year, sending the rupiah up 0.4 percent on Thursday.

Governor Perry Warjiyo told reporters after the meeting that global developments, including the Fed’s latest statement, “will be more positive for capital inflows to emerging markets, including Indonesia.”

BI was one of Asia’s most aggressive central banks last year, raising the benchmark rate six times by 175 basis points to respond to the Fed’s four rate hikes and to counter outflows that kept the rupiah under pressure for most of 2018.

This year, the rupiah has been generally appreciating due to inflows to Indonesia’s equity and bond markets as major central banks around the world turned dovish.

BI still expected one more rate hike by the Fed through 2020, but sees the rupiah being stable this year, Warjiyo said.

“This is a ‘dovish hold’, said Satria Sambijantoro, an economist at Bahana Sekuritas in Jakarta. “BI signaled its readiness to support credit expansion, with tweaks on some macroprudential policy measures to support liquidity in the banking system.”

BI will raise the guidance for where it wants banks to maintain its financing-to-funding ratio to a 84-94 percent range, from 80-92 percent range, effective July 1.

Warjiyo said the measure, which allows banks to manage a slightly higher liquidity ratio without being penalized, was aimed at getting banks to lend more.

LENDING LIFT

Meanwhile, he said BI had also been adding liquidity to the financial system since December through open market operations, estimating the cash injected so far at 459 trillion rupiah ($32.51 billion).

While banks on aggregate had “more than enough” liquidity, he said smaller banks were facing difficulties to expand lending due to funding constraints.

Warjiyo said the new moves would help accelerate lending growth to the upper end of the 10-12 percent outlook in 2019, without hurting stability.

Even so, BI still sees economic growth this year remaining in a range of 5.0-5.4 percent.

The latest measures announced by BI indicated it “was in little hurry to change interest rates,” Capital Economics said, predicting no change in the benchmark rate this year.

In February, the annual inflation rate cooled to 2.57 percent, the slowest in nearly a decade and just above the lower end of BI’s 2.5-4.5 target range for 2019. Warjiyo said inflation will remain within target until the end of the year.

The Philippine central bank, the second Southeast Asian one holding a policy meeting right after the Fed’s, also kept its benchmark rate on hold, as expected.

(Additional reporting by Fransiska Nangoy, Nilufar Rizki and Tabita Diela; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Ed Davies)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski and Jamie Freed

CHICAGO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Pressure mounted on Boeing Co in Washington as U.S. lawmakers called for executives to testify about two crashed 737 MAX jets, even as the world’s biggest planemaker worked to return the grounded fleet to the skies.

A Senate panel plans to schedule a hearing with Boeing at an unspecified date, officials said, the first time a U.S. congressional committee has called the company’s executives to appear for questioning over the crashes.

The same panel, the Senate Commerce subcommittee on aviation and space, will also question FAA officials on March 27, likely about why the regulator agreed to certify the MAX planes in March 2017 without requiring extensive additional training.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 that killed all 157 on board has set off one of the widest investigations in aviation history. Initial reports from investigators say there are clear similarities between the crash and the Lion Air accident that killed all 189 crew and passengers in November.

While no direct link has yet been established, the MCAS flight control software and related pilot training are at the center of the investigation, and U.S. lawmakers are questioning the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of MAX’s safety.

Boeing has promised a swift update to the MCAS, and the FAA said the installation of new software and related training was a priority.

However, extra computer-based training will be required after the software update, the pilot union of MAX’s biggest customer, Southwest Airlines Co, said on Wednesday, becoming the first major airline union to comment.

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association said it had previewed the proposed Boeing training, including a required test, which would be mandatory for Southwest pilots before flying the 737 MAX again.

A Boeing spokeswoman said training on the software update would be provided by the manufacturer, but declined to disclose further details.

Regulators in Europe and Canada have said, however, they will seek their own guarantees of the MAX’s safety.

MOUNTING SCRUTINY

The Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the Boeing model intended to be a standard for decades to come.

Investigators examining the Lion Air crash are weighing how the MCAS system ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

MCAS is meant to prevent a loss of lift which can cause an aerodynamic stall and send the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.

The pilots of the doomed Lion Air flight scrambled through a handbook to understand why the jet was lurching downwards in the final minutes before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

Indonesian investigators have said the cockpit voice recorder information was leaked to the media and they plan to hold a news conference at 0830 GMT on Thursday.

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the problem.

The company was sued on Wednesday in federal court in Chicago by the estate of one of the Lion Air crash victims in which the plaintiffs referred to the Ethiopian crash to support a wrongful death claim against the company.

A Boeing spokesman said the company does not respond to, or comment on, questions concerning legal matters.

The Seattle Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was joining the investigation into the MAX’s certification. An FBI spokeswoman in Seattle would neither confirm nor deny that it was a part of any investigation.

Criminal prosecutors at the U.S. Justice Department, who are also investigating the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, have issued multiple subpoenas to Boeing, CNN reported, citing sources briefed on the matter.

Bloomberg said U.S. officials started investigating the FAA’s approval of the MAX software linked to the Lion Air plane crash last year within weeks after the accident, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon Inspector General said it would investigate a complaint that Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, violated ethical rules by allegedly promoting Boeing while in office.

Facing high-profile scrutiny, Boeing reshuffled executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on its response.

FINAL MOMENTS

Before the Lion Air flight crashed, sources told Reuters the Indian-born captain, aged 31, was quiet, while the Indonesian officer, 41, said “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest”.

A different crew on the same plane the previous evening had the same situation but resolved it after running through three checklists, though they did not pass on the information to the doomed Indonesian crew, a preliminary report in November said.

As with the Indonesia flight, the Ethiopian crew radioed about control problems shortly after take-off and sought to turn back. Ethiopia’s civil aviation head Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw said he expected a report on the investigation within 30 days.

For now, more than 350 MAX aircraft are grounded, and deliveries of nearly 5,000, worth more than $500 billion, are on hold. Boeing’s shares have fallen 11 percent since the Ethiopian Airlines crash, wiping $26 billion from its market value.

(For a graphic on ‘Boeing 737 Max deliveries in question’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(For a graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Jamie Freed in Singapore; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, David Shepardson in Washington, Tim Hepher in Paris, Jonathan Stempel in New York, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

A worker assists his colleague during the lifting of a turbine engine of the Lion Air flight JT610 jet, at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
A worker assists his colleague during the lifting of a turbine engine of the Lion Air flight JT610 jet, at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian investigators said on Thursday that information from the cockpit voice recorder of a Lion Air jet that crashed in October was leaked to the media and they would hold a news conference at 0830 GMT.

The investigation into the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that killed all 189 on board has become more urgent after a second deadly accident in Ethiopia last week prompted regulators to ground the worldwide fleet of the aircraft.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Lion Air jet sits on the tarmac of Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan, Indonesia
FILE PHOTO: A Lion Air passenger plane sits on the tarmac of Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan, Indonesia November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Indonesian carrier Lion Air has started working on $1 billion domestic initial public offering (IPO), Bloomberg reported on Thursday citing sources, as it seeks to move past the crash in October last year that killed 189 people on board.

The company is working with advisers on the planned IPO, which could take place as soon as this year, Bloomberg reported.

Lion Air has mentioned about its IPO plan in the past but has never gone through it.

In 2014, the company floated plans for an IPO to raise up to $1 billion but it did not work. Later Lion Air delayed the IPO in 2016 due to weak market conditions.

Lion Air Could not be immediately reached for comment. (The story refiles to correct dateline to March 21, day in first paragraph to Thursday)

(Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Source: OANN

Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore
Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A coalition of political parties backing Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on course to win more than half of the votes in next month’s elections, giving them control of parliament, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

Indonesia is holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on April 17.

Ten political parties backing Widodo are expected to get 52.3 percent of votes, while the coalition backing his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, trail with 29.5 percent, according to a survey by pollster Litbang Kompas.

Nearly 20 percent of voters remain undecided, said the pollster, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas.

The survey was conducted between the end of February and early March.

Widodo formed a minority government when elected in 2014, but Golkar, the country’s second-biggest political party, jumped ship in early 2016 to support the president.

The president has since held a majority in the house of representatives, making it easier for him to pass legislation.

The survey showed that the two leading parties were benefiting from their association with the president and his opponent.

The Democratic Party of Struggle, of which Widodo is a member, is likely to remain by far the largest party, but Prabowo’s Greater Indonesia Movement is on course to grab second position from Golkar, the Kompas survey results showed.

In the presidential race, Widodo’s big lead over Prabowo has been cut to below 12 percentage points from around 20, according to another Kompas survey published this week.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore
Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A coalition of political parties backing Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on course to win more than half of the votes in next month’s elections, giving them control of parliament, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

Indonesia is holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on April 17.

Ten political parties backing Widodo are expected to get 52.3 percent of votes, while the coalition backing his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, trail with 29.5 percent, according to a survey by pollster Litbang Kompas.

Nearly 20 percent of voters remain undecided, said the pollster, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas.

The survey was conducted between the end of February and early March.

Widodo formed a minority government when elected in 2014, but Golkar, the country’s second-biggest political party, jumped ship in early 2016 to support the president.

The president has since held a majority in the house of representatives, making it easier for him to pass legislation.

The survey showed that the two leading parties were benefiting from their association with the president and his opponent.

The Democratic Party of Struggle, of which Widodo is a member, is likely to remain by far the largest party, but Prabowo’s Greater Indonesia Movement is on course to grab second position from Golkar, the Kompas survey results showed.

In the presidential race, Widodo’s big lead over Prabowo has been cut to below 12 percentage points from around 20, according to another Kompas survey published this week.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati attends the World Economic Forum on ASEAN at the Convention Center in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati attends the World Economic Forum on ASEAN at the Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kham

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s finance minister said the Federal Reserve’s forecast for no rate hikes in 2019 “will be good for global economy” as markets will be calmer than in 2018, when the U.S. central bank raised rates four times.

“It shows that they’re concerned with economic slowdown in the U.S. and in the world,” Sri Mulyani Indrawati told reporters at the sideline of a government event.

Amid signs of an economic slowdown, the Fed abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year at a two-day policy meeting that ended on Wednesday.

Bank Indonesia is due to wrap up its own policy meeting later on Thursday. It is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged for a fourth straight month, despite inflation falling to its lowest pace in nearly a decade, a Reuters poll showed.

(Reporting by Tabita Diela; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

Burial ceremony of the victims of the mosque attacks in Christchurch
Relatives and other people arrive to attend the burial ceremony of the victims of the mosque attacks, at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

By Tom Westbrook and Charlotte Greenfield

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – The bullet-riddled Al Noor mosque in Christchurch was being repaired, painted and cleaned ahead of Friday prayers, as grieving families buried more victims of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that Friday’s call to prayers for Muslims will be broadcast nationally and there will be a two minute silence.

Armed police have been guarding mosques around New Zealand after 50 people were killed last Friday by a lone gunman who attacked worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch.

“We will have a heightened presence tomorrow in order to provide reassurance to people attending the Friday call for prayers,” police said in a statement on Thursday.

“Police have been working relentlessly, doing everything in our power to gather all appropriate evidence from what are active crime scenes so we can allow people to return to the mosques as quickly as possible.”

Both mosques attacked, the Al Noor and nearby Linwood mosque, plan to be reopened. Thousands of worshippers are expected at the Al Noor mosque, where the majority of victims died.

Most victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has been charged with murder following the attack.

He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

The first victims were buried on Wednesday and burials continued on Thursday, with the funeral of a school boy.

Families of the victims have been frustrated by the delay as under Islam bodies are usually buried within 24 hours.

A mass burial is expected to be held on Friday. Body washing will go on through the day and night to have the dead ready for burial, said one person involved in the process.

Police have identified and release to the families the bodies of some 30 victims.

Twenty nine people wounded in the attacks remained in hospital, eight still in intensive care.

Many have had to undergo multiple surgeries due to complicated gunshot wounds. The gunman used semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, with large magazines, and shotguns.

Ardern as vowed to change gun laws in the wake of the attack, possibly banning semi-automatic weapons. An announcement will be made before the next cabinet meeting on Monday.

The gunman broadcast his attack live on Facebook and it was quickly distributed to other platforms, prompting Ardern and others to rebuke technology companies and call for greater efforts to stop violence and extremist views being aired on social media.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Charlotte Greenfield in CHRISTCHURCH, Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON.; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Jon Brown | Associate Editor

The Washington Post offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a platform to express his opinion Tuesday for the second time in less than five months, despite the unparalleled number of journalists imprisoned by his government.

Sixty-eight journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, more than any other country in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Nevertheless, in an op-ed entitled “The New Zealand killer and the Islamic State are cut from the same cloth,” Erdogan used WaPo as a soapbox from which to scold Western nations for failing to adequately distinguish Islam from terrorism.

Likening the New Zealand mosque shooter to radical Islamic terrorists, Erdogan maintained that the shooter’s motives were a distortion of Christianity and admonished that the world “must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere.” (EXCLUSIVE: A Look Inside Andrew Brunson’s Harrowing Turkish Courtroom Experience)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony marking the 104th anniversary of Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign, in Canakkale, Turkey March 18, 2019. Cem Oksuz/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

“Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world,” he continued. “We cannot afford to allow this again. If the world wants to prevent future assaults similar to the one in New Zealand, it must start by establishing that what happened was the product of a coordinated smear campaign.”

Erdogan’s op-ed was a continuation of sentiments he expressed last week at the funeral of a Turkish minister, where he condemned the entire world — and the West, especially — for rising Islamophobia and racism.

“With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing,” he said, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. (RELATED: Erdogan Uses New Zealand Mosque Shootings To Condemn World For ‘Hostility’ To Islam)

The Post, which uses the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” also published Erdogan in a Nov. 2, 2018, op-ed that condemned Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist and WaPo columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

FILE PHOTO: Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

“Erdogan makes a solid point that all murderers or terrorists of innocent people should be treated alike and equally condemned,” said Jeffrey McCall, a communications professor at DePauw University who specializes in journalism ethics. “Letting Erdogan come off as all righteous, however, given his track record of curtailing free expression in his own country, is quite unnecessary.”

“It was a curious move when the Post gave Erdogan op-ed space last fall in the wake of the Khashoggi murder, but a case could be made at that time because the assassination took place in Turkey,” McCall continued. “There is no particular need now to give Erdogan a platform to broadly criticize other governments and suggesting the West is normalizing extremism.” (RELATED: Turkey’s Erdogan Wants Twitter To Silence American Critic)

“The Post, in a sense, seems to be giving Erdogan a legitimacy that is undeserved, given his own record on human rights and the many other measured voices that are available to weigh in on such a serious topic,” he added.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 19: Executive editor at The Washington Post, Martin Baron, (L) and Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison speak onstage during "A Newspaper Editor in the Spotlight" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Executive editor at The Washington Post, Martin Baron, (L) and Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison speak onstage … (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, WaPo executive editor Martin Baron used Erdogan as an example of the possible dangers that could befall American journalists under President Donald Trump. In remarks delivered at a Manhattan dinner party upon winning an award, Baron quoted CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, saying:

This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdogan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al. … First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating—until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison — and then who knows?

“When the press is under attack, we cannot always count on our nation’s institutions to safeguard our freedoms—not even the courts,” Baron then warned, adding, “Many journalists wonder with considerable weariness what it is going to be like for us during the next four — perhaps eight — years. Will we be incessantly harassed and vilified? Will the new administration seize on opportunities to try intimidating us? Will we face obstruction at every turn? If so, what do we do?” (RELATED: Koppel: NYT And WaPo Not What They Used To Be Thanks To Trump Vendetta)

Baron went on to emphasize the importance of “holding the most powerful to account,” and that failing to do so raises the question, “If we do not do that, then what exactly is the purpose of journalism?”

WaPo did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman -/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union executive is urging EU leaders this week to get tough on trade with Beijing and use their 2.4 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) market in public tenders as leverage to pressure countries such as China to open up.

The bloc has sought to avoid taking sides in a multi-billion dollar trade war between Washington and Beijing, but has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies and state involvement in the Chinese economy, and what it sees as the slow pace of change.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Reuters that the time was gone when China, the EU’s second largest goods trading partner, could argue that it needed to protect its developing economy.

“The old narrative is absolutely obsolete,” he said in an interview.

EU leaders will debate relations with China over dinner at a summit on Thursday.

The Commission now wants to revive a proposal that could lead to the bloc limiting foreign firms’ access to public tenders if there is discrimination against EU firms in their home procurement market.

In such cases, a penalty surcharge of up to 20 percent would be applied to the foreign bids.

The Commission proposed its International Procurement Instrument (IPI) in 2012 and 2016, largely at the instigation of France, but faced resistance from several EU countries.

However, it believes there is more willingness now to be firm with China, notably after EU members late last year backed a system of screening foreign investments for threats to strategic technologies and infrastructure.

“Once they saw concrete acquisitions, everybody started to back the (screening) proposal,” Katainen said. “The same thing will happen with IPI as it’s a way to improve reciprocity.”

Neither the screening law nor the public procurement proposal mention China by name, but the Commission mentioned both in its 10-point action plan on EU-China relations, published last week.

A German EU diplomat welcomed the paper as a whole, calling it “comprehensive and courageous”. However, the northern EU members that are most enthusiastic about free trade fear that the measure smacks of protectionism and could harm taxpayers by shutting out cheaper Chinese providers, for instance.

The Commission says Europe needs to take a coordinated approach and that EU companies face the most discrimination in public procurement worldwide, citing Global Trade Alert data.

Of the 10 countries most discriminated against, five are European, with Germany at the top. However, China comes second, and more than 40 percent of the restrictive measures are applied in or by the United States.

Commission officials said the proposal had in mind restrictions in India, Indonesia, Russia and Turkey, but they would not be drawn on the U.S. Buy American Act at a time when the EU is trying to ease trade tensions with Washington.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

A relative carries a portrait photograph of Ethiopian Airlines pilot Yared Getachew as he mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
A relative carries a portrait photograph of Ethiopian Airlines pilot Yared Getachew as he mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 20, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The dreams of the two young men soared as high as the Ethiopian Airlines planes they proudly flew.

Handsome, cosmopolitan Yared Getachew was to marry another plane captain this year. Studious, serious Ahmednur Mohammed rented his first apartment with his maiden paycheck in February.

Their lives, along with 155 others, ended when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged into a field moments after take-off in a still unexplained disaster.

Yared, 29, was captain; Ahmednur, 25, his first officer.

Yared was a popular and brilliant student who became the airline’s youngest ever captain at 27, said his father Getachew Tessema, a retired plastic surgeon and dentist.

He spoke to Reuters after a ceremony at the Kenyan embassy in Addis Ababa to honor the 32 Kenyan victims from the crash. Yared’s mother was Kenyan, making him a citizen of two nations.

“I’m very bitter,” 80-year-old Getachew said, sitting hunched with his head in his hand as he reflected on Yared’s shattered marriage plans.

“At least if he had had a child,” he trailed off painfully as friends nodded in understanding.

Yared’s brother Meno Getachew Tessema, 39, sat next to his father, sometimes putting an arm around him as the ceremony progressed. Yared visited Meno’s family in Toronto when the young pilot came to train on flight simulators in Miami twice in the past two years.

By the time of the crash, Yared had amassed 8,100 hours of flying experience, the airline said, unusual at his age but no surprise to the family. They remembered him as a committed student who shone at school as a child in his mother’s native Kenya and as a teenager in his father’s home country Ethiopia.

He went straight into Ethiopian Airlines’ Aviation Academy after high school. “His dream was to be a pilot,” said Meno, a corporate lawyer. “He was diligent, hardworking, he had a consistent work ethic … he was a rising star of Ethiopian Airlines.”

ARCHITECT TURNED PILOT

Sitting next to Yared in the cockpit on March 10 was Ahmednur Mohammed.

While the pair’s professionalism has been lauded, air safety experts fear they – and pilots in a similar crash in Indonesia in October – may not have been sufficiently versed in a new automated anti-stall system in the Boeing 737 MAX series.

The middle of three sons of a small business owner, friends from the sleepy eastern city of Dire Dawa remember Ahmednur as unusually driven to study when others would spend afternoons relaxing in the shade, chewing the narcotic leaf qat.

He spent five years at college studying his first love – architecture – where he earned the nickname 5-10 for his legendary 17-hour library stints, and received gentle ribbing for the neatness of his room.

Even as a student, Ahmednur’s skill earned him some small interior design commissions, friends said.

But the dutiful son feared he would not be able to make enough money as an architect to help his family, said his father Mohammed Omar, a white-haired 60-year-old in a carefully pressed worn suit.

So he switched to aviation school and completed two years of training. After school hours, he would visit a friend whose brother was a pilot and sit in the living room, running through cockpit checklists and motions on the couch, the friend said. He graduated with a commercial pilot’s license, the airline said.

“He would call me every three days. He would talk about his plans, he said that he was going to help his family,” his father told Reuters after Islamic prayers in Ahmednur’s memory at a relative’s house on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Last Friday, mosques in both the capital and Dire Dawa held prayers for Ahmednur, the family said.

After a few months rest, he began working for Ethiopian Airlines, visiting other nations — Israel, South Africa, Burkina Faso — and earning his first salary.

He adored it, said his brother Menur Mohammed.

Ahmednur amassed 350 flying hours and had just started living alone for the first time when the family heard his plane had gone down.

“It took us long to believe he was dead,” his cousin Imran Mohammed, 30, told Reuters.

“He was so excited to live on his own.”

The family wants the airline or government to build a bridge or a school, something tangible to commemorate Ahmednur: pilot, architect, son. “We want to see something in his name, to remember him,” his father said softly.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 20, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Cindy Silviana

ADDIS ABABA/JAKARTA (Reuters) – The world’s biggest planemaker Boeing faced growing obstacles to returning its grounded 737 MAX fleet to the skies on Wednesday, while chilling details emerged of an Indonesian crash with similarities to the Ethiopian disaster.

Experts suspect an automated system, meant to stop stalling by dipping the nose, may be involved in both cases, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

The March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the flagship Boeing model intended to be a standard for decades to come, given parallels with the Lion Air calamity off Jakarta in October.

The twin crashes killed 346 people.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k)

Chicago-headquartered Boeing has promised a swift update of the automatic flight software for the craft but major regulators in Europe and Canada want to be sure themselves, rather than rely on U.S. vetting.

As Ethiopian investigators pored over black box data from their crash, sources with knowledge of the doomed Lion Air cockpit voice recorder revealed how pilots scoured a manual in a losing battle to figure out why they were hurtling down to sea.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash want to know how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency.

Communications showed that in the final moments, the captain tried in vain to find the right procedure in the handbook, while the first officer was unable to control the plane.

“It is like a test where there are 100 questions and when the time is up you have only answered 75,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the cockpit recording that has not been made public. “So you panic. It is a time-out condition.”

At the end, the sources told Reuters, the Indian-born captain, 31, was quiet, while the Indonesian officer, 41, said “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) – an Arabic phrase to express excitement, shock, praise or distress. The plane then hit water.

U.S. “CREDIBILITY DAMAGED”

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the situation. A different crew on the same plane the evening before had the same problem but solved it after running through three checklists, though they did not pass on all that information to the doomed crew, the preliminary report by investigators released in November said.

Rowing back from previous reliance on U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) vetting, Canada and the European Union will now seek their own guarantees over the MAX planes, complicating Boeing’s hopes to get them flying worldwide again.

Regulators want to be absolutely sure of Boeing’s new automated flight control system, known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), and that pilots are fully trained to handle it.

“Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged,” wrote Chesley Sullenberger, a U.S. pilot famed for landing a jet on the Hudson River saving all 155 people on board a decade ago.

“Boeing and the FAA have been found wanting in this ugly saga that began years ago but has come home to roost with two terrible fatal crashes, with no survivors, in less than five months, on a new airplane type, the Boeing 737 Max 8, something that is unprecedented in modern aviation history,” he added in a scathing article on marketwatch.com.

(GRAPHIC: The grounded 737 Max fleet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI)

Facing such high-profile scrutiny, Boeing, one of the United States’ most prestigious exporters, reshuffled executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on the crash fallout.

(GRAPHIC: Boeing 737 Max deliveries in question – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

VOICE RECORDINGS

The FAA noted in a statement that its “robust processes” and “full collaboration with the aviation community” were key to safety worldwide. The regulator is due to have a new head soon, likely to be former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson.

U.S. President Donald Trump had apparently been considering his longtime personal pilot, John Dunkin, before leaning toward Dickson who had a 27-year career at Delta.

In Ethiopia, which is leading the investigation, experts were poring over the in-flight recording of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed’s voices.

As with the Indonesia flight, they radioed control problems shortly after take-off and sought to turn back, struggling to get their plane on track before it hit a field. However, there is no proven link and experts emphasize that every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors.

For now, though, more than 300 MAX aircraft are grounded round the world, and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold.

Development of the 737 MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, began in 2011 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo. The 737 MAX entered service in 2017 after six years of preparation.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Source: OANN

People stand as they look at damaged houses after a flash flood in Sentani, Papua
People stand as they look at damaged houses after a flash flood in Sentani, Papua, Indonesia, March 17, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Gusti Tanati/ via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua is planning to hold mass burials for the victims of flash floods, as the death toll from the disaster rose to 104 on Wednesday with nearly 10,000 people displaced, the disaster mitigation agency said.

The floods and landslides injured 160 people, 85 of them seriously, while 79 people were missing, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency.

After consulting families and churches, a mass funeral for the victims would be held on Thursday, he said.

The floods and landslide struck at the weekend near the provincial capital of Jayapura after torrential rain fell across the Cyclops mountain range, much of which has been stripped of trees by villagers chopping fire wood and farmers cultivating plantations.

Disaster authorities had warned provincial officials of the danger of flash floods due to deforestation.

Fourteen excavators had been deployed to help clear blocked roads, while temporary bridges were also being built in some areas after access had been cut.

The nearly 10,000 displaced people were scattered across 18 relief shelters and they would be moved to six camps to help streamline aid distribution, the spokesman said.

(Reporting by Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

A vendor sells drinking water to motorists in traffic along the Sudirman business district in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: A vendor sells drinking water to motorists in traffic along the Sudirman business district in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 20, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s capital plans to invest 571 trillion rupiah ($40.27 billion) to upgrade its transportation and other infrastructure in the next 10 years, its governor was reported by media as saying on Wednesday.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said he has submitted a list of proposals to President Joko Widodo including plans to expand the city’s new mass rapid transit (MRT) system and build a 120 km-long light transit railway.

Other projects include investments in a clean water pipeline and waste management projects.

“We will extend the MRT. It’s now 16 km (9.9 miles), but later 231 km more will be built,” he said, as reported by media.

The projects will be funded mostly through debt, Baswedan said.

Next week, the traffic-clogged city will open to public its $3 billion MRT system, running from south to central Jakarta along its main thoroughfares.

The project, funded by a loan from the Japanese government, is a centre-piece of an infrastructure boom under Widodo.

Widodo is vying for re-election on April 17 against opposition candidate, retired general Prabowo Subianto.

Delayed for more than 20 years, the MRT was finally launched in 2013, with the first line originally scheduled to open in 2018.

The national government will explore creative financing options to fund the newly proposed projects alongside the Jakarta administration, Luky Alfirman, director general of budget financing at the finance ministry, said.

(Reporting by Maikel Jefriando; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of a Lion Air JT610 that crashed into Tanjung Karawang sea is seen inside a special container after it was found under the sea, during a press conference at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta
Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of a Lion Air JT610 that crashed into Tanjung Karawang sea is seen inside a special container after it was found under the sea, during a press conference at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

March 20, 2019

By Cindy Silviana, Jamie Freed and Tim Hepher

JAKARTA/SINGAPORE/PARIS (Reuters) – The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of time before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

The investigation into the crash, which killed all 189 people on board in October, has taken on new relevance as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators grounded the model last week after a second deadly accident in Ethiopia.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

It is the first time the voice recorder contents from the Lion Air flight have been made public. The three sources discussed them on condition of anonymity.

Reuters did not have access to the recording or transcript.

A Lion Air spokesman said all data and information had been given to investigators and declined to comment further.

The captain was at the controls of Lion Air flight JT610 when the nearly new jet took off from Jakarta, and the first officer was handling the radio, according to a preliminary report issued in November.

Just two minutes into the flight, the first officer reported a “flight control problem” to air traffic control and said the pilots intended to maintain an altitude of 5,000 feet, the November report said.

The first officer did not specify the problem, but one source said airspeed was mentioned on the cockpit voice recording, and a second source said an indicator showed a problem on the captain’s display but not the first officer’s.

The captain asked the first officer to check the quick reference handbook, which contains checklists for abnormal events, the first source said.

For the next nine minutes, the jet warned pilots it was in a stall and pushed the nose down in response, the report showed. A stall is when the airflow over a plane’s wings is too weak to generate lift and keep it flying.

The captain fought to climb, but the computer, still incorrectly sensing a stall, continued to push the nose down using the plane’s trim system. Normally, trim adjusts an aircraft’s control surfaces to ensure it flies straight and level.

“They didn’t seem to know the trim was moving down,” the third source said. “They thought only about airspeed and altitude. That was the only thing they talked about.”

Boeing Co declined to comment on Wednesday because the investigation was ongoing.

The manufacturer has said there is a documented procedure to handle the situation. A different crew on the same plane the evening before encountered the same problem but solved it after running through three checklists, according to the November report.

But they did not pass on all of the information about the problems they encountered to the next crew, the report said.

The pilots of JT610 remained calm for most of the flight, the three sources said. Near the end, the captain asked the first officer to fly while he checked the manual for a solution.

About one minute before the plane disappeared from radar, the captain asked air traffic control to clear other traffic below 3,000 feet and requested an altitude of “five thou”, or 5,000 feet, which was approved, the preliminary report said.

As the 31-year-old captain tried in vain to find the right procedure in the handbook, the 41-year-old first officer was unable to control the plane, two of the sources said.

The flight data recorder shows the final control column inputs from the first officer were weaker than the ones made earlier by the captain.

“It is like a test where there are 100 questions and when the time is up you have only answered 75,” the third source said. “So you panic. It is a time-out condition.”

The Indian-born captain was silent at the end, all three sources said, while the Indonesian first officer said “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest”, a common Arabic phrase in the majority-Muslim country that can be used to express excitement, shock, praise or distress.

The plane then hit the water, killing all 189 people on board.

French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash that killed 157 people showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air disaster. Since the Lion Air crash, Boeing has been pursuing a software upgrade to change how much authority is given to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, a new anti-stall system developed for the 737 MAX.

The cause of the Lion Air crash has not been determined, but the preliminary report mentioned the Boeing system, a faulty, recently replaced sensor and the airline’s maintenance and training.

On the same aircraft the evening before the crash, a captain at Lion Air’s full-service sister carrier, Batik Air, was riding along in the cockpit and solved the similar flight control problems, two of the sources said. His presence on that flight, first reported by Bloomberg, was not disclosed in the preliminary report.

The report also did not include data from the cockpit voice recorder, which was not recovered from the ocean floor until January.

Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesian investigation agency KNKT, said last week the report could be released in July or August as authorities attempted to speed up the inquiry in the wake of the Ethiopian crash.

On Wednesday, he declined to comment on the cockpit voice recorder contents, saying they had not been made public.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Jamie Freed in Singapore and Tim Hepher in Paris; writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta
Indonesia’s presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto (not pictured) in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

March 20, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A new Indonesian election survey shows President Joko Widodo’s big lead over his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, is narrowing, just weeks ahead of next month’s vote in the world’s third-largest democracy.

The April 17 election will be a rerun of the 2014 race, in which Widodo beat out Prabowo by almost six percentage points.

A survey by pollster Litbang Kompas, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas, shows Widodo likely to win 49.2 percent of the vote, surpassing 37.4 percent for Prabowo.

Although still a double-digit lead, the electability gap in the survey between February 22 and March 5 was narrower than the Kompas survey in October that gave Widodo a 19.9-percentage point lead over his rival.

Opinion polls in January by other pollsters, including Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting and Australian-based Roy Morgan, put Widodo at an advantage of about 20 percentage points over Prabowo.

The president’s campaign team is confident he will still win by a big margin, spokeswoman Meutya Hafid said in a statement.

“There’s a number of indications why votes for Jokowi will be higher than in 2014,” she said, referring to the president by a popular nickname.

“Jokowi will be able to grab votes from places that are normally the stronghold of candidate number two (Prabowo), such as West Java,” Hafid said, referring to Indonesia’s most populous province.

The latest Kompas survey showed Widodo’s support may be shrinking among mature millennials aged between 31 and 40, as well as baby boomers.

After a slow beginning, the six-month campaign has picked up pace, with televised debates between the candidates and rallies held across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

Some analysts say the debates were a missed opportunity for Prabowo, who has struggled to land any big blows against Widodo, while the president has appeared workman-like in projecting his achievements in areas such as infrastructure while in office.

But the challenger’s running mate, private equity tycoon Sandiaga Uno, has appeared to generate a buzz on the campaign trail while proving popular online, especially with women and young voters.

Uno attacked Widodo’s track record on education and healthcare last weekend, saying his government would be able to solve Indonesia’s problems in education and large deficits in health insurance.

Last week, the anti-graft agency named a prominent politician backing Widodo’s re-election campaign a suspect in a bribery case, which could further dent his campaign.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

An employee counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta
An employee counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta, Indonesia October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 20, 2019

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Major currencies stuck to tight ranges in early Asian trading on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting later in the day.

Against a basket of key rival currencies, the dollar was broadly steady at 96.388 after hitting its lowest level since March 1 at 96.291 in overnight trading.

The index has lost almost 1.4 percent after climbing to a three-month high of 97.71 on March 7, on views the Fed will strike a dovish tone during its latest policy meeting.

Investors are focused on the Fed to see whether the central bank will affirm its commitment to “patient” monetary policy and for clues about the likely path of U.S. borrowing costs.

The Fed is due to make its rate announcement at 1800 GMT on Wednesday, when it is expected to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged.

“The dollar continued its drift lower but momentum seems to be waning on the move as volatility across the majors continues to fall,” said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia in Sydney.

“The market is poised for potential break out trades if the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) surprises later today,” he said in a note.

Most currencies stayed within well-trodden trading ranges before the Fed decision, as market participants were cautious after taking cues from U.S. data offering new signs the world’s top economy is on a path of slower growth.

New orders for U.S.-made goods rose less than expected in January and shipments fell for a fourth straight month, offering more evidence of a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing activity, overnight data showed.

More positive signs were evident in Germany as a survey by the ZEW research institute indicated the mood among German investors improved more than expected in March, as a potential delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union helped lift sentiment.

On Wednesday, the euro was a shade higher against the greenback at $1.1355, while the yen was down a tad at 111.51 yen per dollar.

Investors also kept a check on developments related to the U.S.-China trade war as a U.S. government official said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to China next week for another round of talks with Chinese counterparts.

“I don’t think anyone is expecting a quick resolution to this problem any time soon. For the time being, the market will keep reacting to the headlines as they come and go,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Sterling was steady at $1.3267 after paring gains overnight on concerns that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for delaying Brexit was running into complications with the European Union.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Transportation and Infrastructure House Commitee member DeFazio, speaks at U.S. airline customer service hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks at a committee hearing on “Oversight of U.S. Airline Customer Service,” in the aftermath of the recent forced removal of a passenger from a Chicago flight at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 19, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives transportation committee and another key Democrat asked the Transportation Department’s inspector general on Tuesday to examine key decisions made by the Federal Aviation Administration in certifying Boeing’s 737 MAX jet for use.

The request follows the March 10 crash of a 737 MAX jet in Ethiopia and the crash in Indonesia in October of another 737 MAX jet.

The inspector general’s office said it would open an audit Tuesday into the plane’s approval but has not disclosed what it will examine. Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and committee member Rick Larsen said the crashes underscore “the need to take a more proactive approach with safety to protect the traveling public.”

The two Democrats asked in a letter that the probe include a review of what “led to the FAA’s decision not to revise pilot training programs and manuals to reflect changes to flight-critical automation systems.”

The FAA declined to comment on the letter.

Congress plans to hold hearings as early as next week on the two fatal crashes that are expected to include the FAA’s acting chief, Dan Elwell, and other government officials. The Democrats want the review to help improve the “certification process overall and identify improvements to oversight and safety of all new aircraft.”

Boeing said earlier on Tuesday that it would fully cooperate in the inspector general’s audit.

The Democrats want the audit also to include a review of how each of the new features on the Boeing 737 MAX, including positioning of engines on the aircraft and the corresponding changes to automation, angle-of-attack sensors, and how new software “were tested, certified, and integrated into the aircraft.”

They also ask the review to include “how new features of the aircraft, and potential performance differences in this aircraft, were communicated to airline customers, pilots and foreign civil aviation authorities.”

They also want a status report on corrective actions since the fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October “and whether pilots are being adequately trained before the 737 MAX is returned to revenue passenger service throughout the international aviation community.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 19, 2019

By Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.

The causes of the Flight 302 tragedy will likely take months to establish. While much of the international focus has been on U.S. planemaker Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 jet, the airline’s reputation could also hinge on the results of the investigation.

Although crash inquiries focus on preventing future accidents rather than attributing liability, any findings that the carrier fell short in plane maintenance or piloting could be damaging.

For the present, however, passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw.

“We are operating as normal,” he told Reuters. “Our brand is keeping its level, and we are okay.”

Two banking sources with knowledge of the matter said that, barring a major new twist in the investigation with long-term fallout, banks were still comfortable lending to Ethiopian Airlines.

“Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.”

A vote of confidence from lenders is important for the airline because its years of rapid expansion have largely been financed by international borrowing.

The second source, a top European aviation banker, said Ethiopian Airlines was “a good airline, with a good reputation”.

“So unless it (the crash) is a major problem of piloting or maintenance – and it is far too early to talk about that – they will still have access to financing,” the source added.

The sources declined to be identified because the matters are confidential.

FOREIGN INVESTORS

Ethiopian Airlines has borrowed from foreign banks including JP Morgan, ING Capital and Societe Generale over the past decade. It also has outstanding bonds worth $540 million, though none due until 2024, Refinitiv data shows.

The borrowing helped finance the acquisition of stakes in or establish partnerships with at least four African carriers, establishing hubs to feed traffic into Addis Ababa. Last year, the Ethiopian capital overtook Dubai as the main gateway for long-haul passengers into Africa.

The airline’s fleet grew from 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to more than 119 international destinations, up from 52 a decade ago.

The expansion has made the state-owned carrier, founded in 1945, the most profitable major airline on the continent. Ethiopian’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to $233 million from $229 million the previous year; operating revenue jumped 43 percent to $3.7 billion.

Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to sell a minority stake in the airline as part of a broad strategy to open up the country to foreign investors.

Industry analysts said it was too early to evaluate the impact of the crash on the airline’s long-term plans but said, for now, its reputation remained largely intact.

“It’s a very strong management team, with good vision,” said Nawal Taneja, an author and professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “We’ve got to look at the strength of the airline as a whole, not just this one incident.”

PARTNERS, BOEING BOOKINGS

Those who want to travel across Africa have few options other than flying. Conflict, poor roads, and limited cross-border train transport often make travel by land difficult.

Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players.

One such partner is ASKY, a Togo-based carrier which Ethiopian Airlines helped launch in 2010.

“Ethiopian’s accident has not affected our partnership in any way,” said Lionel Tsoto, the airline’s head of public relations. “We continue just as before.”

Global aviation leasing firm GECAS said the airline was a “close and valued partner who we look forward to working with in the future”.

The crash, which saw the Nairobi-bound flight go down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, triggered a global grounding of 737 MAX planes, wiping about 10 percent off Boeing’s share price. GRAPHIC: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/testfiles/boeing737maxseries

Investigators have noted similarities with another deadly crash in Indonesia five months ago involving a plane of the same type owned by Lion Air, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.

Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.

Analysts said it was unlikely that the carrier would cancel the orders, worth $3.5 billion at the current list price, because Boeing would have to fix any problems before regulators permit the jet to fly again.

Boeing will be keen to retain the airline as a customer; more than half of Ethiopian’s fleet are Boeing jets.

“Ethiopian have been very loyal to Boeing in the past,” said Phil Seymour, chief executive of the IBA Group, a Surrey-based aviation consultancy.

“They will be in control of the conversation with Boeing now,” he added. “I would suspect that the business decision is to stick with the order.”

(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Inti Landauro in Paris, Rachel Armstrong in London, Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa and John Zodzi in Lome; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 19, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The investigation into the final minutes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 turned on Tuesday to the secrets in the cockpit voice recorder as Boeing and a shaken global aviation industry hung on the outcome.

The voices of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed could reveal what led to the March 10 crash of the Boeing 737 MAX that has worrying parallels with another disaster involving the same model off Indonesia in October.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k)

The twin disasters killed 346 people.

Black box data was downloaded in France but only Ethiopian experts leading the probe have heard the dialogue between Getachew, 29, and Mohammed, 25. The data was back in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, sources familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Experts believe a new automated system in Boeing’s flagship MAX fleet – intended to stop stalling by dipping the plane’s nose – may have played a role in both crashes, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

Both came down just minutes after take-off after erratic flight patterns and loss of control reported by the pilots. However, every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors, experts say.

The prestige of Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s most successful companies, and Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter, is at stake in the inquiry.

AWKWARD QUESTIONS FOR INDUSTRY

Lawmakers and safety experts are questioning how thoroughly regulators vetted the MAX model and how well pilots were trained on new features. For now, regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 300 MAX aircraft and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold.

Pressure on the Chicago-headquartered company has grown with news that federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation are scrutinizing how carefully the MAX model was developed, two people briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. Justice Department was looking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of Boeing, one of the people said. And a federal grand jury last week issued at least one subpoena to an entity involved in the plane’s development.

In the hope of getting its MAX line back into the air soon, Boeing said it will roll out a software update and revise pilot training. In the case of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, it has raised questions about whether crew used the correct procedures.

“Lives depend on the work we do,” acknowledged Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure.

The MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, was developed for service from 2017 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

(GRAPHIC: The grounded 737 Max fleet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI)

After Ethiopia, France and the United States all noted parallels with the Indonesia crash, one person familiar with the probe said black box data showed the Ethiopian Airlines jet’s “angle of attack” was “very similar” to the Lion Air plane.

The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall.

GLOBAL RAMIFICATIONS

In the hot seat over its certification of the MAX without demanding additional training and its closeness to Boeing, the FAA has said it is “absolutely” confident in its vetting.

But given the U.S. probe, Canada said it would re-examine its acceptance of the FAA validation and do its own independent certification.

The crisis has put the airline world in a spin.

One company, Norwegian Airlines, has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft.

Various firms are reconsidering Boeing orders, and some airlines are revising profit forecasts given they now cannot count on maintenance and fuel savings factored in from the MAX.

Beyond the corporate ramifications, anguished relatives are still waiting to find out what happened.

Many have been visiting the crash site in a charred field to seek some closure, but there is anger at the slow pace of information and all they have been given for funerals is earth.

Abdulmajid Shariff, a Yemeni who lost his brother-in-law, was heading home on Tuesday. “I’m just so terribly sad. I had to leave here without the body of my dead brother. But I have to praise almighty God, there is nothing more to do.”

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jamie Freed in Singapore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Go-Jek driver helmets are seen during the Go-Food festival in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: Go-Jek driver helmets are seen during the Go-Food festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 27, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Neil Jerome Morales and Fanny Potkin

MANILA (Reuters) – Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek lost an appeal on Tuesday against the Philippines’ decision to refuse to grant it a license due to its failure to meet local ownership criteria, in a major blow to its Southeast Asia expansion plans.

Go-Jek, whose backers include Alphabet Inc’s Google <GOOGL.O> and Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK>, had hoped to take on Singapore-based Grab which is the dominant player in the Philippines ride-hailing sector.

The firm applied for a license to operate in Manila in August through wholly owned subsidiary Velox but was denied in January, after ride-hailing was added to a list of industries where foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent. [nL3N1Z91BC]

“They filed a motion for reconsideration, but failed to fix Filipino ownership requirement,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra told Reuters.

A Go-Jek spokesman said the firm was disappointed and “will now explore our options”.

Several Philippine ride-hailing firms have started operations in the capital Manila and in major provinces over the past two years but have had limited success in eroding Grab’s domestic market share, which stands at over 90 percent.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila and Fanny Potkin in Jakarta; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

The Justice Department is investigating Boeing’s development process for the 737 Max jetliner after two high-profile accidents appear to involve the planes’ anti-stall systems, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a subpoena for documents from one person involved in the development process on March 11, TheWSJ reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. The investigation comes alongside a Department of Transportation probe into the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval process that certified the Boeing plane and its safety and training procedures.

It is unclear whether the two investigations are separate or two parts of a larger inquiry, reported TheWSJ. (RELATED: Ethiopian Boeing Flight ‘Smoked And Shuddered’ Minutes Before Crash)

The Justice Department’s involvement could signal that criminal charges are on the table for those involved in the Max’s development. A prosecutor in the department’s criminal division was listed as a contact on the subpoena, according to TheWSJ.

Two separate crashes, one in October 2018 and another in March, involved Boeing’s Max model. In October 2018, a Max operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff and investigators suspect a flaw in the system’s anti-stall system caused it, CNN reports.

On March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. Boeing investigators are working with the Ethiopian government to identify the cause of the crash. Ethiopia’s transport minister acknowledged that the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes shared “clear similarities” on Sunday.

Members of the Ethiopian red cross search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Members of the Ethiopian red cross search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Many nations have enacted bans on flying Max planes since the Ethiopian Airlines crash. President Donald Trump banned the use of the plane Wednesday, grounding all flights in the U.S. scheduled to use the plane.

Pilots in the U.S. complained multiple times about the Max model plane before the March crash. Several of the complaints cited the model’s anti-stall system. The system sometimes measured false data on takeoff, and it would push the plane’s nose down toward the ground to prevent a stall. Pilots regained control of the plane and continued climbing only after turning off the system.

Follow Tim Pearce on Twitter

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Source: The Daily Caller

Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder

March 18, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The world’s biggest planemaker faced escalating pressure on Monday after Ethiopia pointed to parallels between its crash and one in Indonesia, sharping the focus on the safety of software installed in Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, grounded Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet worldwide, and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the shaken aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines, whose reputation also hinges on the investigation, said at the weekend initial analysis of the black boxes showed “clear similarities” with a Lion Air flight from Jakarta in October which crashed killing 189 people.

Both planes were MAX 8s and crashed minutes after take-off with pilots reporting flight control problems.

Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling.

Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.

Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said on Sunday that data recovered from the black boxes by investigators in Paris demonstrated parallels with the Lion Air crash and had been validated by U.S. experts.

U.S. officials did not corroborate that.

With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has said the MAX series is safe, though it plans to roll out new software upgrades shortly.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SHADOW OVER 737 MAX

Boeing has lost billions of dollars of market value since the crash, and halted deliveries of its best-selling model, one intended to be the industry standard but now under a shadow.

There were more than 300 MAX airplanes in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order.

Media reports heaped further pressure on Boeing.

The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of a new flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) had crucial flaws, including understating the power of the system.

It also said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed a standard certification process on the MAX rather than detailed extra inquiries. The FAA declined to comment, but has said the process followed normal process.

The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors and U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that.

Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.

Ethiopia is leading the probe, though the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating.

It was unclear how many of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the doomed six-minute flight and earlier trips, had been taken into account in the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications, said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before it reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

CLOSURE?

The inquiry is not only crucial to give some closure to the families of the victims, who came from nearly three dozen countries, but also has huge financial implications for Boeing and its many customers worldwide.

The MAX is Boeing’s best-selling model ever, with a backlog of orders worth well over $500 billion at a list price of $121 million each.

Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are re-considering orders.

Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing some maintenance and fuel savings.

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg sought to allay some fears at the weekend.

“While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” he said.

Dozens of aviation authorities had grounded the MAX series before acting U.S. FAA boss Daniel Elwell said the United States would do the same.

One source close to the probe said Ethiopian officials had been reluctant to share information with U.S. investigation teams and the planemaker.

“There was a lot of distrust, especially at first, but it is easing,” the source said, asking not to be named.

There have also been arguments over access to the crater left by the explosive high-speed impact of Flight 302.

The agony for families of the dead in Ethiopia has been compounded by their inability to bury remains. Charred fragments are all that remain and DNA testing may take months.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Jason Neely)

Source: OANN

People visit a memorial site for victims of Friday's shooting, in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
People visit a memorial site for victims of Friday’s shooting, in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 18, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – Kamran Nasir was in a finance lecture in Australia when a gunman slaughtered 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Within hours he had joined a band of about 60 volunteers on their way to wash the dead victims, in the somber aftermath of New Zealand’s worst modern mass shooting spree.

“We got this text – they need volunteers,” Nasir, 35, told Reuters.

“It literally unfolded in an hour and half and we were running to the airport to catch a flight,” he said, sitting with four friends who had also dropped everything to offer help.

Experienced in Islamic funeral rites, the men from Brisbane who are connected to Brothers in Need, a charity group, are part of a contingent drawn from Australia and cities across New Zealand to help a community overwhelmed by the number of bodies which must be dealt with according to ritual.

They also epitomize a spirit of generosity that has pulsed across a grieving city this week.

“The first thing that went through my head was: They need us,” Nasir said.

He arrived in the early hours of Saturday, the same day Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder over the killings. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.

Christchurch is subdued. Bunches of flowers have been piled up outside the botanical gardens and underneath oak trees opposite one of the mosques, which are guarded by armed police.

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The youngest was a three year old boy, born in New Zealand to Somali refugee parents.

The victims, after their bodies were removed from the crime scenes, had to be examined by investigators before they can be prepared for burial.

“It is a spiritual process, preparing the body to go into the next life,” said Taufan Mawardi, who is 38 and one of Nasir’s fellow volunteers.

“I’ve never personally done anything that’s got to do with violent crime, particularly bodies that have been riddled with bullet holes or knife wounds or whatever that may be. So it is a bit confronting as well, anticipating what it’s going to be like in there,” he said.

Eight teams of six people are carrying out the work of cleansing the bodies before burial.

“You start from the head, working down from the right to the left side, to the feet. The mouth and the nose have to be washed,” Nasir said.

Officials say they have released one body and that they hope to complete their examinations of the other 49 killed as soon as possible.

“As much as it is emotional, we’ve got a very good support network,” said Nasir.

“For me it is an honor. It is an honor to be washing these bodies.”

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

eople stand as they look at damaged houses after a flash flood in Sentani, Papua
People stand as they look at damaged houses after a flash flood in Sentani, Papua, Indonesia, March 17, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Gusti Tanati/ via REUTERS

March 18, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Authorities in Indonesia raised the death toll from floods and landslides in the easternmost province of Papua to nearly 80 on Monday as President Joko Widodo called for the urgent evacuation of victims from devastated communities.

The deadly floods and landslide struck at the weekend after torrential rain fell across the Cyclops mountain range, much of which has been stripped of tree cover by villagers chopping fire wood and farmers cultivating plantations.

The death toll shot up to nearly 80 from 58 on Sunday as rescuers found more victims as they struggled to clear mud, rocks and shattered trees from the area near the provincial capital of Jayapura, including a 70 km stretch of road.

With 43 people missing, Widodo urged rescuers to step up their efforts.

“What is most important is handling the evacuation,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram.

More than 4,000 people have been displaced and are sheltering in tents, schools, and public buildings.

Disaster authorities have warned provincial officials of the danger of flash floods due to deforestation, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster mitigation agency.

The central government sent supplies of seedlings last year, hoping to help restore some forest cover, he said.

(Reporting by Jessica Damiana; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Singtel logo is pictured at their head office in Singapore
FILE PHOTO: A Singtel logo is pictured at their head office in Singapore February 11, 2016. Singtel releases their quarterly results on Friday. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 18, 2019

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore Telecommunications Ltd said on Monday it has signed a partnership to enable the use of its cross-border mobile wallet platform in Japan, as the telecom operator moves ahead with its digital payments expansion.

The partnership with NETSTARS, a Tokyo-based mobile payment technology company, will allow travelers to use their home mobile wallets on Singtel’s VIA network to pay digitally at stores in Japan – a popular destination for Southeast Asians.

Singtel, Southeast Asia’s largest telecom operator, is keen to expand beyond its traditional carrier services into areas such as digital marketing, cybersecurity, mobile payments and video streaming.

Southeast Asia, where a chunk of the 650-million population is underbanked, is becoming a crowded market for mobile payments. Singtel wants to stand out by permitting users to be able to pay with their e-wallets outside their home country.

Singtel plans to expand the mobile wallet alliance to India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

“With scale we will, over time, be able to convert payments into multiple uses,” said Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group, adding the company could look to provide more financial services.

Singtel’s Thai associate Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) is part of VIA network; and it recently signed an agreement with the digital services arm of Malaysia’s Axiata Group Berhad.

Including its regional associates, the telecom operator has a mobile customer base of over 675 million.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Source: OANN

A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa
A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie

March 17, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Sunday the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people had “clear similarities” with October’s Lion Air crash, according to analysis of the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the March 10 disaster.

Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and both crashed minutes after take off after pilots reported flight control problems. Concern over the plane’s safety caused aviation authorities worldwide to ground the model, wiping billions of dollars off Boeing’s market value.

Investigators are trying to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for possible similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

“It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one. There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far,” Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said.

“The data was successfully recovered. Both the American team and our (Ethiopian) team validated it. The minister thanked the French government. We will let you know more after three or four days,” he told Reuters.

In Washington, U.S. officials told Reuters that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have not validated the data yet.

When investigators, after reviewing black box data, return to Addis Ababa and start conducting interpretive work, the NTSB and FAA will assist in verification and validation of the data, an official said.

In Paris, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said data from the jet’s cockpit voice recorder had been successfully downloaded. The French agency said in a tweet it had not listened to the audio files and that the data had been transferred to Ethiopian investigators.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SAFETY ANALYSIS

A preliminary report on the crash is to be released within 30 days, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the transport minister.

The Seattle Times reported that Boeing’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.

The analysis of the system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) understated the power of this system, the Seattle Times said, citing current and former engineers at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA also did not delve into any detailed inquiries and followed a standard certification process on the MAX, the Seattle Times reported citing an FAA spokesman.

The FAA declined to comment on the Seattle Times report but referred to previous statements about the certification process. It has said the 737-MAX certification process followed the FAA’s standard certification process.

The report also said both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX last Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.

Last Monday Boeing said it would deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8, a few hours after the FAA said it would mandate “design changes” in the aircraft by April.

A Boeing spokesman said 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new airplanes and derivatives. The spokesman said the FAA concluded that MCAS on 737 MAX met all certification and regulatory requirements.

In Addis Ababa, aviation staff gathered at Bole International Airport to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with the 149 passengers.

Weeping women held single stems in their shaking hands. Banks of the white flowers, the traditional color of mourning, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Gaurika Juneja, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

The first Boeing 737 MAX 7 is unveiled in Renton
The first Boeing 737 MAX 7 is unveiled in Renton, Washington, U.S. February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

March 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Boeing Co’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws, the Seattle Times reported on Sunday.

Boeing’s safety analysis of the flight control system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) understated the power of this system, the Seattle Times said, citing current and former engineers at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA also did not delve into any detailed inquiries and followed a standard certification process on the MAX, the Seattle Times reported citing an FAA spokesman.

The report also said both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX last Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board

Boeing was not immediately available for comment.

The FAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Gaurika Juneja; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Source: OANN

People take pictures on a pedestrian bridge, illuminated with colors of New Zealand's national flag as a tribute to victims of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, in Jakarta
People take pictures on a pedestrian bridge, illuminated with colors of New Zealand’s national flag as a tribute to victims of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

March 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said it removed 1.5 million videos globally of the New Zealand mosque attack in the first 24 hours after the attack.

“In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…,” Facebook said in a tweet http://bit.ly/2HDJtPM late Saturday.

The company said it is also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content out of respect for the people affected by the mosque shooting and the concerns of local authorities.

The death toll in the New Zealand mosque shootings rose to 50 on Sunday. The gunman who attacked two mosques on Friday live-streamed the attacks on Facebook for 17 minutes using an app designed for extreme sports enthusiasts, with copies still being shared on social media hours later.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she wants to discuss live streaming with Facebook.

(Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

Source: OANN

United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa NegerI

March 16, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, which crashed killing 157 people, had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly, said a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording.

A voice from the cockpit of the Boeing 737 MAX requested to climb to 14,000 feet above sea level – about 6,400 feet above the airport – before urgently asking to return, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the recording is part of an ongoing investigation.

The plane vanished from radar at 10,800 feet.

“He said he had a flight control problem. That is why he wanted to climb,” the source said, adding there were no further details given of the exact problem and the voice sounded nervous.

Experts say pilots typically ask to climb when experiencing problems near the ground in order to gain margin for maneuver and avoid any difficult terrain. Addis Ababa is surrounded by hills and, immediately to the north, the Entoto Mountains.

The New York Times reported Captain Yared Getachew’s voice was on the recording but the Reuters source was not familiar with his voice or that of the first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur to verify which man was speaking. However, it was the same voice throughout, the source said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday followed other countries in grounding the 737 MAX, citing satellite data and evidence from the scene that indicated some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.

On Saturday, investigators began studying the cockpit voice recorder. Along with the flight data recorder, the information will be evaluated by Ethiopian authorities, teams from Boeing, and U.S. and EU aviation safety authorities to try to determine the cause of the crash.

HIGH SPEED, FAILED CLIMB

The Ethiopian flight was set to follow the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) from the airport and followed standard procedure with a first contact just after departure, the source said. Everything appeared normal.

After one or two minutes, the voice on the air traffic control recording requested to remain on the same path as the runway and to climb to 14,000 feet, the source said.

The aircraft’s ground speed after departure was unusually high, the Reuters source said, reaching around 400 knots (460 miles per hour) rather than the 200 to 250 knots that is more typical minutes after departure.

“That is way too fast,” the source said.

No more than two minutes later, the air traffic controller was in communication with other aircraft when the voice from Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 interrupted, saying “break, break” – signaling that other non-urgent communications should cease. He sounded very scared, the source said.

“He requested permission to return. Air traffic control granted him permission to turn on the right because to the left is the city,” he said. “Maybe one minute passed before the blinking dot on the radar disappeared.”

After starting the turn, the plane disappeared from radar at an altitude of 10,800 feet above sea level, the highest it reached during the six-minute flight. Addis Ababa’s runway is at a high elevation of around 7,600 feet, suggesting the doomed jet made it about 3,000 feet into the sky.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 had data covering the first half of the flight but it dropped out at 8,600 feet.

Other satellite data tracking the plane has not been made available publicly. In the Lion Air crash, investigators are examining the behavior of a new anti-stall system installed on the 737 MAX that led to the plane gaining and losing altitude as the pilots fought for control against the automated system.

Boeing is expected to finalize a software fix for that system within a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said earlier on Saturday.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld, Jamie Freed, Tim Hepher; Editing by Leigh Thomas, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis at Midway International Airport in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski

March 15, 2019

By Conor Humphries, Jamie Freed and Allison Lampert

DUBLIN/SINGAPORE/MONTREAL (Reuters) – The grounding of Boeing’s global 737 MAX fleet has brought headaches for airlines that need to find alternative aircraft to fly in their place, but it has given some carriers a welcome opportunity to re-evaluate orders for the plane.

Countries and airlines around the world banned the 737 MAX this week after a deadly Ethiopian Airlines plane crash killed all 157 people on board. The disaster followed a fatal crash of the same model operated by Lion Air in Indonesia in October.

For airlines that over-ordered the latest version of Boeing’s 737 workhorse, the grounding could be a good excuse to delay or cancel purchases, saving cash on the balance sheet, analysts said.

“These unfortunate developments could give airlines that have potentially over-ordered an opportunity to review their requirements and fleet strategy,” CAPA Centre for Aviation Chief Analyst Brendan Sobie said.

Many airlines have had to quickly find other aircraft to substitute for the grounded 737 MAX, which has also complicated plans by airlines to use the fuel-efficient, longer-range jet to serve new destinations.

Southwest Airlines Co, the world’s largest operator of the MAX, was planning to fly the jet on its new California-Hawaii route later this year, while Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes inaugurated flights from Brazil to Orlando and Miami in November after receiving its first 737 MAX planes.

Normally there are financial penalties for airlines that cancel orders and for manufacturers that do not deliver according to the contract terms. It was unclear how much legal leverage the MAX grounding might give airlines to wiggle out of commitments or seek damages for costs and lost revenue.

Among airlines that may regret ordering too many 737 MAX, Sobie cited Vietnam’s VietJet Aviation JSC, which he said had based a decision to expand from an all-Airbus A320 fleet by adding 200 737 MAX jets on a flawed strategy of opening joint ventures in overseas markets.

VietJet said it was closely monitoring developments and would make a decision about its order once more is known.

Among other Asian airlines, financially troubled Malaysia Airlines said on Friday that its order for 25 737 MAX jets was under review. Garuda Indonesia said this week it might cancel its order for 20 737 MAXs, which it had already reduced from 49 before the crash.

Lion Air, one of Boeing’s top three MAX customers in terms of total orders, had already thrown into question 187 unfilled orders after its October crash. It told Reuters on Wednesday it would halt all planned 737 MAX deliveries until after a final report into its crash is released later this year.

In Europe, analysts said there was a case for and against cash-strapped Norwegian Air cancelling MAX orders: The ban would offer a reprieve from debt commitments but could leave the airline at the back of a congested Airbus order queue or increase operating costs if flights were replaced with less fuel-efficient jets.

Loss-making Norwegian already said in February it was postponing delivery of 12 MAX aircraft from 2020 to 2023 and 2024 to cut expenditure and shift its focus from expansion to profitability, and this week became the first major airline to publicly say it will seek compensation from Boeing over the MAX grounding.

A Norwegian Air spokesman declined to comment on Friday on whether it was discussing delaying or cancelling altogether MAX 8 orders, saying it was in dialogue with Boeing about a range of topics but had nothing new to share.

FLEET PAIN

For many large carriers like American Airlines Group Inc and China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, the 737 MAX a tiny proportion of the total fleet.

But smaller airlines Iceland Air, Poland’s LOT and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA had planned to use 737 MAX jets to cover 25 percent, 17 percent and 11 percent of their summer schedules respectively, Goodbody analyst Mark Simpson said, giving them a higher exposure to the grounding.

“This is going to impact on their operations and cash flow,” he said. “Particularly into the Easter peak season next month and potentially through the summer as well… People will be scrambling for spare aircraft and there are not many, so lease rates will rise.”

Meanwhile, Air Canada on Friday became the first major airline to publicly attach dollars and cents to the uncertainty surrounding the 737 MAX, saying it was suspending its 2019 financial forecasts.

One silver lining for the airlines: Reduced seat capacity may allow them to hike passenger fares, analysts said.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo; additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paolo, Cindy Silivana in Jakarta and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Video grab of a police officer running after reports that several shots had been fired at a mosque, in central Christchurch
A police officer is seen after reports that several shots had been fired at a mosque, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. TVNZ/via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. NEW ZEALAND OUT. AUSTRALIA OUT. Digital: NO USE NEW ZEALAND INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY NEW ZEALAND OR AUSTRALIA BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS . For Reuters customers only.

March 15, 2019

By Jack Stubbs

LONDON (Reuters) – A gunman who killed 49 people at two New Zealand mosques live-streamed the attacks on Facebook for 17 minutes using an app designed for extreme sports enthusiasts, with copies still being shared on social media hours later.

The live footage of Friday’s attacks, New Zealand’s worst-ever mass shooting, was first posted to Facebook and has since been shared on Twitter, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Facebook-owned Whatsapp and Instagram.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they had taken steps to remove copies of the videos. Facebook said it had deleted the gunman’s accounts “shortly after the livestream commenced” after being alerted by police.

But Reuters found videos of the shooting on all five platforms up to 10 hours after the attacks, which began at 1345 local time in the city of Christchurch. Twitter and Google said they were working to stop the footage being reshared. Facebook did not immediately respond to additional questions.

In a 15-minute window, Reuters found five copies of the footage on YouTube uploaded under the search term “New Zealand” and tagged with categories including “education” and “people & blogs”. In another case, the video was shared by a verified Instagram user in Indonesia with more than 1.6 million followers. The user did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet Inc and other social media companies have previously acknowledged the challenges they face policing content on their platforms.

The shootings in New Zealand show how the services they offer can be exploited by extremist groups, said Lucinda Creighton, senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project. She said the attacks were shown live on Facebook for 17 minutes before being stopped.

“Extremists will always look for ways to utilize communications tools to spread hateful ideologies and violence,” she said. “Platforms can’t prevent that, but much more can be done by platforms to prevent such content from gaining a foothold and spreading.”

COMPUTER GAME CARNAGE

The gunman filmed and shared the attacks using a mobile phone app called LIVE4, which allows users to broadcast directly to Facebook from personal body cameras, according to the app’s developer and a Reuters review of videos available online.

The app is usually used to share videos of extreme sports and live music, but on Friday the footage recreated the carnage of a computer game, showing the attacker’s first-person view as he drove to one mosque, entered it and began shooting randomly at people inside.

Alex Zhukov, founder and chief technology officer of LIVE4 developer VideoGorillas, said the LIVE4 services transmitted footage directly to Facebook and his company did not have the ability to review it first.

“The stream is not analysed, stored or processed by LIVE4 in any way, we have no ability (even if we wanted to) to look at the live streams as they are happening or after it’s completed,” he said in written comments to Reuters.

“The responsibility for content of the stream lies completely and solely on the person who initiated the stream.”

He said the company condemned “the actions of these horrible persons and their disgusting use of our app for these purposes … We will do whatever is humanly possible for it to never happen again.”

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs said people posting the video online risked breaking the law.

“The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see,” the department said. “We are working with social media platforms, who are actively removing this content as soon as they are made aware of an instance of it being posted.”

But private online communities dedicated to violent content were still looking for ways to share copies of the video.

Members of a group called “watchpeopledie” on internet discussion board Reddit, for example, discussed how to share the footage even as the website took steps to limit its spread.

Reddit – which has over 20 investors, including Conde Nast owner Advance Publications – said it was actively monitoring the situation in New Zealand.

“Any content containing links to the video stream are being removed in accordance with our site-wide policy,” it said.

One Reddit user said in a post they had sent a video of the attack to more than 600 people before having their account temporarily suspended for sharing violent content.

(Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin and Tabita Diela in JAKARTA, Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON, Munsif Vengattil in BANGALORE; Editing by Anna Willard)

Source: OANN

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/ THIRD TIME LUCKY? MAY-BE

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. And again and again. The UK Parliament has voted to extend the March 29 exit date but Prime Minister Theresa May is still hoping to railroad lawmakers into approving the EU divorce deal she’s negotiated. The unpopular agreement has already been heavily rejected twice but prospects of a long delay or even another referendum that may reverse Brexit could well swing eurosceptic Tories over to her side. So a third “meaningful” vote, dubbed MV3, is planned for the coming week. If that fails, well, MV4 is already being touted.

There is, of course, no guarantee an exasperated EU will play ball — all 27 remaining members have to agree the extension. And there are doubts a three-month delay will break the deadlock. If MV3 fails, the EU’s March 21 summit will be key, first to see if it agrees an extension and second, whether it presses Britain for a delay of one year or more.

With the parliamentary votes, meaningful or otherwise, grabbing the limelight, there’s probably not much the Bank of England can add at its meeting on March 21. It’s already said no-deal Brexit is a bad idea; any clarity on its policy intentions is likely only after the manner and timing of Brexit becomes evident.

(GRAPHIC: No-deal” Brexit probabilities – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ua88yG)

2/ FIGURE IT OUT BOEING

President Trump has told Boeing to “figure it out fast”. That’s probably good advice for the company, a long-standing stock market darling that’s lost almost $28 billion, or 13 percent of its value, since the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines’ crash.

The disaster has prompted country after country into grounding Boeing’s fleet of 737 MAX aircraft – the model involved in the Ethiopian crash and another recent one in Indonesia. Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers worldwide, and left the company scrambling to prove the safety of its best-selling model that was intended to be the standard for decades. Before the crash, Boeing was the seventh most valued stock on the Dow Jones, but it’s fallen to 14th. Its shares hit record highs just a week before the crash, having risen a stunning 52 percent since the end of December. They are still up almost 20 percent year-to-date.

So what’s next? Moody’s reckons Boeing will overcome the near-term challenges. The question for investors is whether the share price slide takes into account the damage to the bottom line and potential legal exposure. Analysts will be assessing the possible fallout; chances are, some earnings downgrades will start coming through.

– Boeing faces crisis with worldwide grounding of 737 MAX jetliners- Boeing 737 MAX 8 groundings spread around the world- Boeing shares cheaper, but are they a buy?

(GRAPHIC: Boeing valuation – https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6oKWa)

3/ PAUSE PERFECT

U.S. unemployment is plumbing its lowest level in half a century, wages are ticking up but the Federal Reserve, meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, is not poised to snatch away the proverbial punch bowl.

On Wall Street at least, the Fed’s dovish 2019 conversion is paying off: The S&P 500 is up about 6 percent since the Fed’s Jan 30 meeting signalled it was putting in abeyance a tightening policy that began in 2015.

Labor shortages notwithstanding, the slowing economy is keeping prices in check, giving the central bank leeway to stand pat on interest rates after hiking four times in 2018. Compared to the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target, producer inflation was up 1.9 percent in the year to February, while consumer inflation rose just 1.5 percent to its smallest annual gain in 2-1/2 year.

The next reading of the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, is due on March 29. But that gauge rose 1.9 percent year-year in December.

Already, money markets are building in some easing in 2020. By then, the Fed should have completed a review of how it manages its policy mandate of keeping prices stable and employment high.

    

(GRAPHIC: U.S. price and wage growth – https://tmsnrt.rs/2O4K4ex)

4/ SURPRISES GOOD AND BAD

It’s been a rough old time for Europe’s economy, with momentum steadily waning last year even as the United States powered ahead. Growth warnings issued by the OECD and the European Central Bank have rattled investors further this year, as they try to assess what kind of toll the euro zone has suffered from trade wars, Brexit and Italian debt concerns.

But finally! There are some signs the nasty surprises are fading. Citi’s well-known economic surprise index – a gauge showing how much economists have been over- or underestimating economic performance compared to what indicators actually deliver – now shows a cross-over between the euro zone and the United States.

That means negative surprises from economic indicators in the world’s top economy have worsened dramatically in recent weeks. Euro zone data misses, meanwhile have been less bad than previously.

Whether this run continues or not will become evident in coming days. First up on Tuesday, comes Germany’s ZEW economic index. Purchasing manager indexes, a crucial forward-looking gauge, will be released on Friday from the United States, Euro zone and Japan.

(GRAPHIC: Macro surprises U.S. versus Euro zone – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Fb2JT4)

5/ SEARCHING FOR MEANING

To many economists, the Bank of Japan’s forecasts have long seemed to be on the optimistic side. The key difference in views was the global outlook. Well, the world economy is slowing down and even if Japanese companies are awash with cash and no major central bank runs a looser policy than the BOJ, the No.3 economy is still feeling the pinch.

What’s worse, inflation encounters less resistance on the downside than it does on the upside. So the BOJ is well and truly in a corner. There was little it could do at its March meeting save keeping policy unchanged and tempering its economic outlook predictions. But might the BOJ be forced to resort to further policy easing? That question is being asked of the ECB too, while central banks elsewhere — from Australia to the United States — may also have to cut rates.

Upcoming data on Japan’s trade and price growth will help investors determine what happens next. Policymakers will also be hoping for a resolution soon to the U.S.-China trade dispute. The data could intensify the debate on whether the BOJ’s dogged adherence to a 2 percent inflation target means anything – finance minister Taro Aso predicted “things could go wrong” if the BOJ hung on to that goal.

(GRAPHIC: Japan inflation – https://tmsnrt.rs/2FbxTJT)

(Reporting by Sujata Rao, Karin Strohecker and Josephine Mason in London; Alden Bentley in New York and Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Source: OANN

The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC
FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

March 15, 2019

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – A host of central banks meet next week, but with a global economic slowdown underway alongside political and trade strife, they are unlikely to tinker much, if at all, with policy.

An escalation in the U.S.-China trade war would trigger a sharper downturn, economists say, putting major central banks on a more cautious path just as they want to wind down crisis measures.

On Wednesday, the United States Federal Reserve will release its updated forecasts for the U.S. economy, and its latest dot plots will probably point either to no more interest rate rises this year or to one more at most.

The Fed is currently in a holding pattern and its chief, Jerome Powell, signaled at the conclusion of the last meeting in January it may be at the end of its policy tightening cycle and would be “patient” before making any further moves.

“We believe the word ‘patient’ is likely to appear in the March policy statement again, as it did in January,” HSBC economists told clients.

“This would imply, in our view, that the target funds rate will be kept unchanged for at least the two subsequent policy meetings. We look for one 25 basis point rate increase in the federal funds rate this year, in September.”

A Reuters poll pointed to one rate increase, in the third quarter, before it calls a halt.

On March 21, the Bank of England is almost certain to sit on its hands. British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favor of delaying Britain’s exit from the European Union, which had been due at the end of the month.

Prime Minister Theresa May will now try for a third time to get parliament’s approval for her proposed deal on leaving the EU. Lawmakers must decide whether to back a deal they feel does not offer a clean break from the EU, or reject it and accept Brexit could be watered down or even thwarted by a long delay.

“This looks set to keep the Bank Rate firmly on hold at 0.75 percent. The committee is very unlikely to raise rates again until it has a clearer line of sight on Brexit,” said Victoria Clarke at Investec.

Britain’s economy came close to stagnating again in February amid Brexit nerves and sluggish global growth, a picture repeated in the euro zone where a series of weak economic reports have confirmed a slowdown.

The European Central Bank may have missed its opportunity to raise interest rates before the next downturn, according to a Reuters poll that showed a majority of central bank policy watchers aren’t confident they will.

Earlier this month, the ECB pushed back until at least 2020 the timing of its first post-crisis rate increase. It also offered banks a new round of cheap loans to help revive the euro zone economy.

It was a similar scene in Asia, where growth is also slowing. Central banks in Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand all have monetary policy meetings in the week.

“The market is interested in what Indonesia and the Philippines central banks will do and look for any signs of easing after their aggressive policy hikes in 2018,” said Prakash Sakpal at ING.

All 13 economists polled by Reuters said the Philippines central bank would leave policy alone and probably wait until inflation is within its target before it looks to ease.

Indonesia’s central bank will also remain on hold and wait for further moves from the Fed, a Reuters poll suggested.

“We think Bank Indonesia will remain on hold until late Q3 when we expect it to hike another 25 basis points to maintain balance with Fed hikes,” noted Credit Suisse economists.

Bucking the trend, Norway’s central bank is expected to raise its key rate on March 21 and continue to tighten later this year amid solid growth and rising inflation, a Reuters poll found on Friday.

Norway’s fourth-quarter growth exceeded expectations, as did February inflation. The crown’s weakness and a rising price for crude oil, the country’s main export, also point to tighter policy.

(Editing by Larry King)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France's BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget
Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By David Shepardson, Richard Lough and Aaron Maasho

WASHINGTON/PARIS/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – French investigators on Friday will begin analyzing data from the black boxes of the Boeing 737 Max plane that crashed after takeoff from Addis Ababa killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving the aircraft since October.

Experts will be looking for any links between Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October crash of a 737 Max operated by Lion Air in Indonesia that killed 189 people. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing MAX jets in service because of similarities between the two crashes.

Boeing said it had paused deliveries of its fastest-selling 737 MAX aircraft built at its factory near Seattle, but continues to produce the single-aisle version of the jet at full speed while dealing with the worldwide fleet’s grounding.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers, and left the world’s biggest planemaker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were handed over to France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) on Thursday. Technical analysis would begin on Friday and the first conclusions could take several days.

U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday the 737 Max fleet would be grounded for weeks if not longer until a software upgrade could be tested and installed.

Boeing has said it would roll out the software improvement “across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.”

The captain of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 requested permission to return to Addis Ababa airport three minutes after takeoff as it accelerated to abnormal speed, the New York Times reported.

All contact between air controllers and Flight 302 to Nairobi was lost five minutes after it took off, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told the newspaper.

Within a minute of the flight’s departure, Captain Yared Getachew reported a “flight control” problem as the aircraft was well below the minimum safe height during a climb, the Times reported, citing the person.

After being cleared by the control room to turn back, Flight 302 climbed to an unusually high altitude and disappeared from radar over a restricted military zone, the person added.

Relatives of the dead stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.

“I can’t find you! Where are you?” said one Ethiopian woman, draped in traditional white mourning shawl, as she held a framed portrait of her brother in the charred and debris-strewn field.

Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 371 MAX models in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching flights to other planes in their fleets.

Nearly 5,000 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry.

“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.

Boeing would maintain its production rate of 52 aircraft per month, of which the MAX, its newest version, represents the major share. However, Boeing declined to break out exact numbers.

CONNECTION TO INDONESIA CRASH?

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited satellite data and evidence from the scene that indicated some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with October’s crash in Indonesia.

The head of the Asian nation’s transport safety committee said the report into the Lion Air crash would be speeded up so it could be released in July to August, months earlier than its original timeframe.

Though it maintains the planes are safe, Boeing has supported the FAA move. Its stock is down about 11 percent since the crash, wiping more than $26 billion off its market value. It fell 1 percent on Thursday.

U.S. and Canadian carriers wrestled with customer calls and flight cancellations and Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, the largest U.S. operators of the 737 MAX, said they had started flying empty MAX aircraft to be parked elsewhere during the ban.

U.S. President Donald Trump, an aviation enthusiast with deep ties to Boeing, said he hoped the suspensions would be short. “They have to figure it out fast,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash in October will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday.

In what may presage a raft of claims, Norwegian Air has said it will seek compensation from Boeing for costs and lost revenue after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX.

Airline Garuda Indonesia said there was a possibility it would cancel its 20-strong order of 737 MAXs, while Malaysia Airlines said it was reviewing an order for 25 of the aircraft.

Under international rules, Ethiopians are leading the investigation but France’s BEA will conduct black box analysis as an adviser. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was also sending three investigators to assist.

The cause of the Indonesian crash is still being investigated. A November preliminary report, before the retrieval of the cockpit voice recorder, focused on maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but gave no reason for the crash.

(For an interactive graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Reporting by Richard Lough, Tim Hepher and John Irish in Paris, Duncan Miriri and Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa, Jeff Mason and David Shepardson in Washington, Omar Mohammed and Maggie Fick in Nairobi; Danilo Masoni in Milan, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Allison Lampert in Montreal; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) official examines a turbine engine from the Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: An Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) official examines a turbine engine from the Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Indonesia plans to speed up the release of the report into its investigation of the October crash of Lion Air Boeing 737 that killed all 189 people on board to “between July to August”, the head of the nation’s transport safety committee KNKT said on Friday.

The crash was the world’s first of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jet. A second deadly incident occurred on Sunday with the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed all 157 people on board.

KNKT head Soerjanto told Reuters his agency would speed up its investigation and release the report months earlier than its original timeline of the fall of 2019.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana; Writing by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

An American family lays flowers for their daughter, who died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, after a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
An American family lays flowers for their daughter, who died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, after a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 15, 2019

(Reuters) – The Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed in Ethiopia on Sunday killing 157 people requested permission to return to Addis Ababa airport three minutes after takeoff as it accelerated to abnormal speed, the New York Times reported.

All contact between air controllers and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to Nairobi was lost five minutes after it took off, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told the newspaper.

Within a minute of the flight’s departure, Captain Yared Getachew reported a “flight control” problem as the aircraft was well below the minimum safe height from the ground during a climb, the Times reported, citing the person.

After being cleared by the control room to turn back within three minutes of the flight, Flight 302 climbed to an unusually high altitude and disappeared from the radar over a restricted military zone, the person added.

The investigation of the crash is still in its early stages and black boxes with details of the flight’s final moments arrived in France on Thursday for analysis.

Experts say it is too early to speculate on what caused the crash or whether it is related to the Lion Air 737 Max 8 crash in Indonesia five months ago. Accident reports show most are caused by unique combinations of technical and human factors.

Ethiopian Airlines was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN


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