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Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on Caribbean tour
Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in Havana, Cuba, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

March 25, 2019

By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) – Prince Charles and his wife Camilla landed in Havana on Sunday for the first official trip by the British royal family to Communist-run Cuba even as Britain’s top ally the United States seeks to isolate the island nation.

Shortly after arriving on a Royal Air Force plane, the heir to the British throne laid a wreath of flowers at the memorial to independence hero Jose Marti on Havana’s Revolution Square dominated by massive portraits of guerrilla fighters including Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

During his three-day historic visit, which is part of a broader Caribbean tour, the 70-year old Prince of Wales is set to dine with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, tour Havana’s restored colonial district, visit community and green energy projects and review a parade of antique British cars.

The royal visit, in line with a broader normalization in relations between the West and Cuba, comes three years after one by former U.S. President Barack Obama then billed as the start of a new chapter for ties between the old Cold War foes

Since Donald Trump became U.S. president, however, the United States has reverted to its decades-old strategy of seeking to pressure Cuba to change, including tightening its crippling trade embargo on the island.

The Trump administration has ramped up that pressure over the crisis in Cuba’s socialist ally Venezuela.

“It’s always good for Cuba to strengthen its relations with important international actors but all the more so when the United States has a president responding to the interests of extreme right-wing people who want to hurt Cuba,” said one Havana resident, Arian Rubio, 26, a historian.

William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, said such visits by high level delegations of major powers “lend legitimacy to the Cuban government and represent an implicit warning to the United States that hostile actions against Cuba may incur a diplomatic cost with important allies.”

The UK government had asked the royal couple to add Cuba to their Caribbean tour of former and current British territories in hopes of boosting commercial and cultural ties and political influence.

British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year while only a handful of well-known British companies have investments there through subsidiaries, for example Imperial Brands Plc, British-American Tobacco Plc and Unilever.

Opportunities to do business, however, are expected to grow as the Caribbean’s largest island continues opening up its beleaguered, state-dominated economy. Those include opportunities in its expanding tourism sector, that already attracts some 200,000 British tourists annually.

Moreover Britain has sought to drum up more trade with alternative partners since a referendum to exit the European Union three years ago.

Plans for high-level officials to accompany the Prince of Wales were scuttled by the political drama playing out in London over how best to leave the EU before a March 29 deadline.

Underscoring the thaw in British-Cuban relations, when Diaz-Canel receives Charles at the presidential Palace of the Revolution on Monday evening, it will be their second meeting in a year.

The 58-year old Cuban president paid the prince a visit last November in London on his first tour of several countries since replacing Raul Castro last April.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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An airplane with the Russian flag is seen at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas
An airplane with the Russian flag is seen at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

March 24, 2019

CARACAS (Reuters) – Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.

The report comes three months after the two nations held military exercises on Venezuelan soil that President Nicolas Maduro called a sign of strengthening relations, but which Washington criticized as Russian encroachment in the region.

Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left for Caracas on Friday from Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

A Reuters witness saw what appeared to be the passenger jet at the Maiquetia airport on Sunday.

It was not immediately evident why the planes had come to Venezuela.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Russia’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not reply to messages seeking a comment. The Kremlin spokesman also did not reply to a request for comment.

The Trump administration has levied crippling sanctions on the OPEC nation’s oil industry in efforts to push Maduro from power and has called on Venezuelan military leaders to abandon him. Maduro has denounced the sanctions as U.S. interventionism and has won diplomatic backing from Russia and China.

In December, two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed Venezuela in a show of support for Maduro’s socialist government that infuriated Washington.

Maduro on Wednesday said Russia would send medicine “next week” to Venezuela, without describing how it would arrive, adding that Moscow in February had sent some 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid.

Venezuela in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-stricken country that was coordinated with the team of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including supplies provided by the United States, from entering via the border with Colombia.

(Reporting by Carlos Garcia, Carlos Jasso, Diego Ore and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas, and Maria Tsvetkova and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

An airplane with the Russian flag is seen at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas
An airplane with the Russian flag is seen at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

March 24, 2019

CARACAS (Reuters) – Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.

The report comes three months after the two nations held military exercises on Venezuelan soil that President Nicolas Maduro called a sign of strengthening relations, but which Washington criticized as Russian encroachment in the region.

Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left for Caracas on Friday from Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

A Reuters witness saw what appeared to be the passenger jet at the Maiquetia airport on Sunday.

It was not immediately evident why the planes had come to Venezuela.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Russia’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not reply to messages seeking a comment. The Kremlin spokesman also did not reply to a request for comment.

The Trump administration has levied crippling sanctions on the OPEC nation’s oil industry in efforts to push Maduro from power and has called on Venezuelan military leaders to abandon him. Maduro has denounced the sanctions as U.S. interventionism and has won diplomatic backing from Russia and China.

In December, two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed Venezuela in a show of support for Maduro’s socialist government that infuriated Washington.

Maduro on Wednesday said Russia would send medicine “next week” to Venezuela, without describing how it would arrive, adding that Moscow in February had sent some 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid.

Venezuela in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-stricken country that was coordinated with the team of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including supplies provided by the United States, from entering via the border with Colombia.

(Reporting by Carlos Garcia, Carlos Jasso, Diego Ore and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas, and Maria Tsvetkova and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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FILE PHOTO: Candle flames burn during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
FILE PHOTO: Candle flames burn 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 14, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

March 24, 2019

By Jason Neely

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines has rejected media reports that optional equipment for Boeing 737 MAX planes was critical for safety aboard a flight that crashed this month.

The crash of flight 302 and a similar one involving Indonesia’s Lion Air in October, both flying the new 737 MAX 8, have cost 346 lives and sparked the biggest crisis in decades for Boeing.

Grieving families, nervous travelers and airlines around the world are looking for answers while Boeing prepares updates aimed at getting the 737 MAX, with sales worth $500 billion at stake, back in the air.

In a sign of the impact on Boeing’s business, Indonesia’s Garuda is pushing to dump a $6 billion order for the grounded planes.

Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets were also heading to Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington over the weekend to review a software upgrade.

One focus for investigators is software Boeing installed on the MAX series designed to push a plane’s nose down if it senses too sharp an ascent and an indicator that shows that angle of flight.

OPTIONAL ITEMS

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said it was important not to confuse safety-critical equipment with optional items.

“A Toyota is imported with all the necessary equipment to drive, like the engine and the wheels, but with air conditioning and the radio optional,” Tewolde said.

“When Boeing supplies aircraft there are items which are mandatory for safety and then there are optional items,” he added, noting the angle of attack indicator was optional.

Some media reports have questioned whether having this installed may have helped the cockpit crew regain control of flight 302, which crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10 killing all 157 aboard.

Tewolde rejected this, adding: “The angle of attack indicator was on the optional list along with the inflight entertainment system.”

He echoed the words of Norwegian Air which said it had not selected the cockpit light warning of discrepancies between angle of attack sensors for its fleet of 18 MAX 8 aircraft.

“We have chosen not to fit this particular optional extra …it is not a safety critical feature nor is it a requirement by any aviation authority,” Norwegian told Reuters.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s biggest airline with a modern fleet of Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier aircraft and a flying history that dates back to the 1940s.

They have been flying Boeing planes since 1962 and have four MAX 8 jets, with another 25 worth some $3 billion on order.

GARUDA

Garuda has written to Boeing asking to cancel its order for 49 737 MAX 8 planes, CFO Fuad Rizal said on Friday. CEO Ari Askhara told Reuters customers had lost trust in the plane.

The airline might switch to other Boeing models, Rizal told Reuters, adding it was in negotiations with Boeing while a move to Airbus planes was not under consideration. Garuda rival Lion Air is weighing what to do with an even bigger order following its crash, which killed all 189 passengers and crew aboard.

It has 190 Boeing jets worth $22 billion at list prices waiting to be delivered.

Boeing has said it is been working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on a software upgrade and training set to be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.

The FAA which certifies planes expects to approve these design changes no later than April, it has said.

American Airlines pilots this weekend were preparing to test the planned software upgrade, saying they want their own safety guarantees on the fix.

Southwest and United Airlines said they would also review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updates.

(Reporting by Jason Neely; additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore, Cindy Silviana and Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, David Shepardson in Washington and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Keith Weir)

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Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was alerted Friday after a drunk passenger reportedly urinated on a woman’s luggage during an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Charlotte.

The incident occurred on flight 1344, which arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday morning, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

“Due to an intoxicated passenger, American Airlines requested law enforcement meet flight 1344 once it arrived in Charlotte at 12:52 a.m. on Thursday,” American Airlines said to The Daily Caller News Foundation over email Saturday.

Police notified the FBI of the incident Friday, The Charlotte Observer reported.

It is unclear whether there will be criminal charges. (RELATED: 8 Americans Die In Plane Crash That Has China Grounding Planes)

Pictured is a plane at the airport. SHUTTERSTOCK/BCFC

Pictured is a plane at the airport. SHUTTERSTOCK/BCFC

The FBI investigates criminal activities that occur during airline flights, according to The AP.

The FBI in Charlotte did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Scott Morefield | Reporter

Calls to abolish the electoral college are all the rage these days, but they aren’t new. One such attempt in 1956 was thwarted with the help of a Democratic senator from Massachusetts — a young John F. Kennedy.

The Senate was debating Senate Joint Resolution 31 on March 20, 1956, a “follow-up to what was originally labeled the Lodge-Gossett proposal,” author and law professor Robert Hardaway told The Daily Caller.

The bill was a proposal for a Constitutional amendment that would have allocated electoral votes, as Tennessee Democratic Senator Estes Kefauver described it, “whereby the federal vote of a state would be divided in proportion to the popular vote,” or what would have essentially been a national popular vote.

Responding to a question from Texas Senator Price Daniel during floor debate, Kennedy issued a strong response against the proposal:

But in answer to the Senator’s question, I maintain that on practical grounds the people in the smaller States, would be deprived of their electoral vote on the basis put by the Senator.

Mr. President, Senate Joint Resolution 31, concerning which there has been little, if any, public interest or knowledge, constitutes one of the most far-reaching, and I believe mistaken-schemes ever proposed to alter the American constitutional system. No one knows with any certainty what will happen if our electoral system is totally revamped as proposed by Senate Joint Resolution 31 and the various amendments which will be offered to it. Today, we have a clearly Federal system of electing our President, under which the States act as units. Today, we have the two-party system, under which third parties and splinter parties are effectively discouraged from playing more than a negligible role. Today, we have a system which in all but one instance throughout our history has given us presidents elected by a plurality of the popular vote …

… And today we have an electoral vote system which gives both large States and small States certain advantages and disadvantages that offset each other.

Now it is proposed that we change all this. What the effects of these various changes will be on the Federal system, the two-party system, the popular plurality system, and the large-State-small-State checks and balances system, no one knows. Nevertheless, it is proposed to exchange this system-under which we have, on the whole, obtained able Presidents capable of meeting the increased demands upon our Executive-for an unknown, untried, but obviously precarious system which was abandoned in this country long ago, which previous Congresses have rejected, and which has been thoroughly discredited in Europe.

Picture taken 10 December 1960 showing John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline holding their son John during the christening ceremony at the chapel of Georgetown university. Researchers found John F. Kennedy Jr body 21 July 1999 and wreckage from the plane he was piloting when it crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. / AFP PHOTO / SAM SCHULMAN (Photo credit should read SAM SCHULMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Picture taken 10 December 1960 showing John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline holding their son John during the christening ceremony at the chapel of Georgetown university. Researchers found John F. Kennedy Jr body 21 July 1999 and wreckage from the plane he was piloting when it crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. (SAM SCHULMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Hardaway, a law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the author of the soon-to-be-released book “Saving the Electoral College: Why the National Popular Vote Would Undermine Democracy,” compared the French elections in 2017, when the French “were given the choice between two candidates opposed by the vast majority of French voters,” to what Democrats are proposing for the United States. Hardaway argued that Ross Perot could have conceivably won the 1992 election were it based on popular vote alone. (RELATED: Presidential Historian Doug Wead Explains Why The Founders Set Up The Electoral College)

“Consider what would have occurred had the U.S. presidential election been held in May of 1992,” Hardaway wrote in a paper submitted to The Daily Caller. “Polls showed that Perot would win 33 percent of a hypothetical ‘popular vote,’ Bush 28 percent, and Clinton 24 percent, with the rest undecided or for fringe  candidates. Under NPVIC, Perot would have been elected outright since it doesn’t even provide for a ‘run-off.’”

“In the end, the attempts to abolish the Electoral College failed once the wisdom of John Kennedy’s words were heeded,” Hardaway continued. “Had it not been for the ‘Grand Compromise’ which induced the smaller states to join the union with the Article V guarantee that they could not be deprived their equal suffrage in the Senate upon which their presidential voting power was based, the United States would never have been formed. Indeed, until that guarantee was included in the Constitution, the thirteen colonies were already breaking up into several different nation ‘states,’ leading the advisors to King George to gloat that America was falling apart and would soon ‘openly concert measures for entering into something like their former connections to Great Britain.’”

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Source: The Daily Caller

Women from armed forces march in the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad
Women from armed forces march in the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

March 23, 2019

By Saad Sayeed

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan wants peace with India and they should focus on health and education, the Pakistani president said on Saturday during a parade to show off its military might following a tense standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Conflict between the rivals erupted last month following a suicide bomb attack claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group in the Indian party of the disputed and divided Kashmir region that killed 40 paramilitary police.

“We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue,” President Arif Alvi said in his Pakistani Republic Day speech.

“Instead of war we should focus on education and health.”

Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight with Indian aircraft over Kashmir on Feb. 27, a day after a raid by Indian jets on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan.

In their first such clash since their last war, in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected over Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

The pilot was later released by Pakistan as a peace gesture.

The president, who largely holds ceremonial duties, said India had blamed Pakistan for the suicide-bomb attack without evidence, which he said was irresponsible.

Saturday’s military parade included an air show featuring the Pakistani-built JF-17 fighter jet. One of the aircraft shot down the Indian plane last month.

“Today’s parade is sending the message that we are a peaceful people but we will never be oblivious of our defense,” Alvi said.

The parade was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was invited to attend as the chief guest, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan said on Twitter earlier that he had received a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his best wishes for Republic Day and calling for peace and regional cooperation.

“I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people,” Khan said.

“I believe it’s time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues.The dispute over the former princely state of Kashmir sparked the first two of three wars between India and Pakistan after independence in 1947. They fought the second in 1965, and a third, largely over what become Bangladesh, in 1971.

(Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft at Midway International Airport in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit next to the maintenance area after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski/File Photo

March 23, 2019

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co is sending experts from its technical pilot and training teams to review documentation and training associated with Boeing Co’s updated speed trim system on its 737 MAX aircraft, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday.

Southwest, the largest operator of 737 MAX in the world, is also preparing to park its 34 MAX jets at a facility in Victorville, California, while a global grounding remains in place following two fatal crashes of the new Boeing jets in five months.

The crashes involving an Indonesian Lion Air plane on Oct. 29 and an Ethiopian Airlines plane on March 10 killed 346 people.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

By Alwyn Scott and Eric M. Johnson

NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Much like tapping the brake pedal in a car to disengage cruise control, a sharp tug on the controls of older models of Boeing Co’s 737 used to shut off an automatic trim system that keeps the plane flying level, giving the pilot control.

But Boeing disabled the “yoke jerk” function when it brought out the 737 MAX, the latest version of its top-selling jet – and many pilots were unaware of the change, aviation experts told Reuters.

(Understanding controls on the Boeing 737 MAX: https://tmsnrt.rs/2OjLSAt)

(Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in question interactive: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes: https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

The difference may help explain why pilots struggled to keep their aircraft climbing after takeoff on two fatal 737 MAX flights less than five months apart that killed 346 people.

Pilots of a Lion Air flight that crashed in October scoured a handbook for answers as the plane repeatedly lurched downward in the first minutes of flight, Reuters reported.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight that went down on March 10 showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air accident, aviation authorities said after seeing black-box data.

A pair of switches on the center console between the pilots will turn off the automatic trim and a mechanism, new on the 737 MAX, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that is suspected of playing a role in both disasters.

TRAINING MATERIAL ‘NOT CLEAR’

But pilots would have needed to know that MCAS existed, that it had unusual power to force the plane down and that “a hard pull on the yoke” would no longer turn off the automatic trim that uses MCAS, John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, said in an interview.

“That wasn’t clear to the pilots flying the airplane,” Hansman said. “The training material was not clear on that.”

Boeing declined to comment. In the aftermath of the Lion Air crash, Boeing pointed to long-established procedures that pilots could have used to handle a malfunction of the anti-stall system, regardless of whether the pilots knew MCAS existed.

That checklist tells pilots to switch off the two stabilizer trim cutout switches on the central console, and then to adjust the aircraft’s stabilizers manually using trim wheels.

An American Airlines flight manual mentions MCAS only in a table of acronyms, according to an October 2018 edition of the 1,400-page book seen by Reuters. Pilots have raised questions about why more detail on MCAS was not included.

The American Airlines manual’s two-page description of trim controls describes a “trim circuit,” but not how MCAS could be triggered by a faulty sensor reading, which is also suspected in the two crashes.

PREVENTING A DANGEROUS STALL

The MCAS system was designed to counteract the effect on the plane’s handling caused by new larger 737 MAX engines, which had to be placed farther forward and higher on the wings because the 50-year-old 737 design sits relatively low to the ground. That move gave the MAX a tendency to nose up into a stall, a dangerous position in which a plane loses lift as too little air flows across its wings.

MCAS, essentially a few lines of computer code in the flight control system, relies on data from two small, blade-shaped sensors near the nose of the aircraft that measure the angle of air flow. Faults in the sensors are not uncommon, and MCAS relies on only one sensor at a time during flight. In the Lion Air crash, investigators found a faulty reading led the plane’s computer to believe it was stalled and to push the nose down.

Boeing later issued a bulletin reminding pilots how to respond to such a faulty reading. An optional warning light could have alerted pilots to the faulty sensor.

MAINTENANCE, TRAINING UNDER SCRUTINY

Investigators unraveling the Lion Air crash are looking at maintenance records and whether the pilots had enough training to handle the emergency, among other factors.

The 737 MAX can fly without MCAS, so the feature was not considered “flight-critical” even though it has extraordinary power to steer the plane, said an industry expert with knowledge of the system who spoke on condition of anonymity. MCAS controls the large horizontal wing on the plane’s tail known as the stabilizer, while the pilot controls smaller flaps or “elevators” on the stabilizer.

Over several minutes, the stabilizer can shift position enough that the elevator controls can no longer counteract the downward direction of the plane, the source said.

“They gave more control power to the automation than to the pilot,” the source said of the MCAS design.

The Lion Air pilots flew for about five minutes by using the elevator to counteract the stabilizer every 15 or 20 seconds, said Hansman, based on readings from the flight data recorder. After that, the pilot tried pulling back hard on the controls.

“That’s what suggests that the crew didn’t understand the system. They thought they were shutting MCAS off and didn’t,” Hansman said. “Whereas any time during the entire sequence, they could have reached to the middle console and just shut it off.”

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Newly revealed emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server seem to show the then-soon-to-be secretary of state discussing classified foreign policy — sometimes with world leaders.

The documents, unearthed by Judicial Watch and revealed Thursday, would appear to contradict Clinton’s 2015 testimony, under oath, that she had already relinquished all of her classified emails to the State Department. In the correspondence, Clinton roves from apparently sensitive foreign policy concerns in Israel to helping a friend of her daughter Chelsea find employment at the State Department, Fox News reports.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during an event to discuss reproductive rights at Barnard College, January 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during an event to discuss reproductive rights at Barnard College, Jan. 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In the emails, Clinton is discussing foreign policy concerns with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as suggesting she initiate “private, 100% off-the-record” back channel discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (RELATED: Federal Court Says Clinton Must Answer More Questions About Her Emails)

The files were found in a pile of 72,000 documents that the FBI found and gave to the State Department in 2017, but are not believed to comprise all of the Clinton emails that are still missing.

As secretary of state in 2011, Clinton was on the phone with the British PM discussing confidential foreign policy points and advising him about a “speech” that has been redacted in the emails provided through the Freedom of Information Act. She also assisted a friend of her daughter Chelsea Clinton in applying for a job with the State Department.

While George W. Bush was still president in January 2009 and Clinton was awaiting the inauguration of then-President-elect Barack Obama, Clinton was emailing Blair about “Gaza.” Blair said he wanted an issue “resolved before Tuesday,” or Inauguration Day. (RELATED: Report: DOJ Told FBI To Ignore ‘Gross Negligence’ As Reason To Charge Clinton Over Emails)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon her departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli, Libya October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon her departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli, Libya Oct. 18, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clinton’s reply directed Blair to use her private email server with his response: “Tony – We are finally moving and I am looking forward to talking w you as soon as I’m confirmed, tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. Your emails are very helpful so pls continue to use this address, [email protected]

“It would be great if we could talk before any announcements are made,” Blair responded, according to the emails published by Judicial Watch.

The emails also indicate that Clinton may have met with Bidzina Ivanishvili, a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, before Ivanishvili became the prime minister of Georgia, reportedly with help from a Putin-led poltical operation.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Man looks out through a window with an advertisement of SpiceJet Airline, on a commercial building in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad
A man looks out through a window with an advertisement of SpiceJet Airline, on a commercial building in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – India’s SpiceJet Ltd said on Friday it was in talks will lessors globally to induct aircraft, in an effort to fill a gap after the grounding of its MAX fleet.

The airline was forced to ground its 12 Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 planes by India’s aviation watchdog due to safety concerns after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people earlier this month.

The low-cost carrier could also benefit from cash-strapped Jet Airways being forced to ground planes, and is in talks with lessors to lease some of those aircraft, a person with direct knowledge of the matter had told Reuters earlier this week.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

By Cindy Silviana and Tracy Rucinski

JAKARTA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co will mandate on MAX jets a previously optional cockpit warning light, which might have warned of problems that possibly played a role in the recent crashes of Ethiopian and Indonesian planes, two officials briefed on the matter said.

The safety feature is expected to be offered as part of a software update to the MAX fleet that was grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said the officials who asked not to be identified.

The crash set off one of the widest inquiries in aviation history and cast a shadow over the Boeing MAX model intended to be a standard for decades.

Boeing did not immediately comment on the plan to make the safety feature standard, but separately said it was moving quickly to make software changes and expects the upgrade to be approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the coming weeks.

But Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda said on Friday that customers had lost trust in the planes and it has sent a letter to Boeing asking to cancel an order for 49 MAX 8s – the first airline to publicly confirm plans to cancel an order for the troubled aircraft.

The current order was valued at $6 billion at list prices and Garuda, which currently has one MAX in its fleet, said it could switch to other Boeing models.

While a direct link between the crashes has not been proven, initial investigations show similarities and attention has focused on an automated flight-control system, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), that came into service two years ago with the MAX.

The software is designed to prevent a loss of lift that can cause an aerodynamic stall, sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way. In the Lion Air crash, it may have been erroneously activated by a faulty sensor, investigators believe.

Chicago-based Boeing will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, the officials told Reuters. The world’s largest plane maker previously offered the alert, but it was not required by aviation regulators.

Boeing has said it plans to make software changes to the aircraft, but it is unclear how long it will take Boeing to refit existing MAX planes with new software or hardware.

Experts said it could take weeks or months to be done, and for regulators to review and approve the changes. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems.

The FAA has said installation of the new software and related training was a priority.

SOFTWARE FIX

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of commercial marketing, said the software changes include changes in the control laws of the airplane, an update of the displays, the flight manual, as well as the training.

Boeing has tested the improvements in a simulator and in the air, he said on Thursday. He defended Boeing’s design and production processes, adding that it was too early to speculate on what the investigations will show.

The company has said there was a documented procedure to handle the automated system at the heart of the problem.

The pilots’ union of Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of the MAX, said it is working with the company, Boeing, other pilot unions and the FAA to test and validate the new software.

“We still would like to have more detail on the development, control parameters and testing done on the algorithm that will trigger an MCAS event,” the union said in a statement.

The American Airlines’ pilots union told Reuters it expects to test the software fix on simulators this weekend in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

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

Southwest and American expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday the simulators are not designed to replicate the MCAS problems. The airline is among the few that do have a simulator but the captain of the doomed flight had no chance to practise on it before the crash, a pilot colleague said.

MOUNTING PRESSURE

The two crashes killed almost 350 people.

Since the Ethiopian crash, Boeing shares have fallen 12 percent and $28 billion has been wiped off its market value.

Pressure has mounted on the company from U.S. legislators, who are also expected to question the FAA. The company also faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Several lawsuits already filed on behalf of victims of the Lion Air crash referring to the Ethiopian accident. Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Consumer advocate and former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader lost a grand-niece in the Ethiopian crash and urged whistleblowers to help challenge the aviation industry and get to the bottom of what happened.

“They lulled us into complacency,” he said in an interview in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

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

(For a graphic on ‘Grounded 737 MAX fleet’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6jQbI)

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

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh, Georgina Prodhan and Ben Klayman)

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

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: 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

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

  • Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories. 
  • Tribe has amplified conspiracies about President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia teaming up to expose Jeff Bezos and Russia orchestrating a plane crash to cover up collusion, among others.
  • Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t kept media outlets from promoting him on TV and in news articles.

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has habitually spread conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t prevented him from maintaining a presence in the national media.

Tribe was among several high-profile figures to amplify a false conspiracy theory in February that President Donald Trump had teamed up with Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman to leak Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer.

“Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York,” Tribe wrote on Twitter, where he has more than 492,000 followers. (RELATED: Majority Of Democrats Believe A Straight-Up Conspiracy Theory)

His conspiratorial post was shared thousands of times across Twitter.

Screenshot/Twitter

Screenshot/Twitter

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Enquirer had paid the brother of Bezos’s mistress $200,000 for text messages between the two lovers, confirming a Daily Beast report that identified the brother — not the Saudis — as the Enquirer’s source. Tribe’s tweet was still up as of Wednesday evening.

The Harvard Law professor has made a habit of spreading baseless conspiracy theories, seemingly without repercussion.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Attorney Laurence H. Tribe attends The ACLU of Southern California’s 2011 Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on Dec. 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In one instance, Tribe implied that a Russian plane crash in February 2018 was a cover-up of collusion between Trump and Russia.

His tweet, which again received thousands of retweets, read: “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday: Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis [sic] friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia. Probably just coincidence. .”

He sarcastically added that the “coincidence” “[s]ounds plausible.”

Tribe’s viral claim was nowhere close to the truth. Millian wasn’t on the plane.

In December 2018, Tribe shared a left-wing blog post titled “Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon.” There is no evidence to support that headline, and the vice president has not been indicted.

“The title of this piece gets well ahead of its skis in terms of actual substance,” Tribe conceded, before continuing “but the evidence described provides rich food for thought. And if Pence is truly in Mueller’s cross-hairs, that’s a huge game-changer.”

No reporting to date supports the claim that Pence is “in Mueller’s cross-hairs.” The blog Tribe cited, PoliticusUSA.com, has a track record of spreading misinformation.

In January, Tribe cited the same blog to say that Trump’s announcement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to travel to Afghanistan during the government shutdown bordered on “treason” by giving “aid and comfort” to the Taliban.

Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t prevented national media outlets from elevating his profile, quoting him in their articles and hosting him on their panels.

Tribe has appeared on MSNBC five times this year, according to a transcript search on the media monitoring service Grabien.

The Washington Post cited Tribe in an article Monday about Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, who shared a meme on Facebook saying that Republican states would win in a civil war because they have “8 trillion more bullets.” King deleted the post after criticism.

The Post quoted a tweet from Tribe, who said that King “isn’t actually COMMITTING treason, but he is fomenting and inciting it.” Tribe said King’s meme provided the House of Representatives “[a]mple reason to expel him.”

Tribe’s media appearances have continued long after a May 2017 BuzzFeed report noted his established track record of spreading anti-Trump conspiracy theories.

In one instance BuzzFeed documented, Tribe shared an article from the Palmer Report, a left-wing blog known for spreading misinformation, that claimed Trump had paid then-Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz “$10 million in Russian money” in advance of the 2016 election.

The only source for the conspiracy theory was a tweet from an anonymous Twitter user.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: India's Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector
FILE PHOTO: India’s Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in the Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States remains concerned about India-Pakistan tensions as the two nuclear-armed countries’ militaries remain on alert despite some de-escalation in the region, a senior U.S. administration official said on Wednesday.

“We do still see the militaries on alert and so we realize if there, God forbid, would be another terrorist attack, then you could quickly see escalation in the situation once again,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, which both claim, make the area one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

The simmering dispute erupted into conflict late last month when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on Feb. 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area, and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

In their first such clash since the last war between the two nations in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected in the Pakistan-controlled section of Kashmir.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by David Alexander and Jonathan Oatis)

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

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

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

A trader passes by screens showing Spotify on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A trader passes by screens showing Spotify on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 19, 2019

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures rose slightly on Tuesday as investors anticipated a more accommodative policy stance from the U.S. Federal Reserve in a two-day policy meeting this week.

A flurry of downbeat economic data this month has supported market expectations that the Fed may reinforce a halt to further rises in interest rates.

The Fed concludes its deliberations with a news conference on Wednesday.

Investors will also be watching out for the central bank’s “dot plot,” a diagram showing individual policymakers’ rate views for the next three years, along with details on its plan to reduce holdings in bonds.

Traders currently expect no rate hikes this year, and are even building in bets for a rate cut in 2020.

Optimism that the Fed will remain less aggressive in raising rates and hopes of a resolution to a bitter trade dispute between the U.S. and China helped the markets claw back most of their losses from late last year.

The benchmark S&P 500 hovers at a five-month high and is just 3.5 percent away from its September record closing high.

At 7:04 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 102 points, or 0.39 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.4 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 27 points, or 0.37 percent.

Technology and financial stocks helped Wall Street’s three main indexes rise on Monday, the benchmark index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq’s fifth rise in last six sessions.

The blue-chip Dow’s advance has been hindered by Boeing Co as the world’s largest planemaker faces increased scrutiny in the wake of two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft in five months.

Boeing shares slipped 0.6 percent in premarket trading on Tuesday after shedding about 12 percent since the March 10 plane crash in Ethiopia.

Chip designer Nvidia Corp jumped 1.6 percent on partnering with Softbank Group Corp and LG Uplus Corp to deploy cloud gaming servers in Japan and Korea later this year.

In economic news, data at 10 a.m. ET is expected to show new orders for U.S.-made goods rose 0.3 percent in January after edging up 0.1 percent the month before.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai
FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai, India, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

March 19, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s aviation regulator said on Tuesday that Jet Airways is currently operating only 41 aircraft, just a third of its original fleet, as the debt-laden carrier struggles to finalize a rescue deal with lenders and its major shareholder Etihad Airways.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement the situation is fluid and that Jet may reduce the number of aircraft it is flying in coming weeks.

Saddled with debt of more than one billion dollars, Jet has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors – some of whom have ended lease deals with the airline before taking the planes out of the country.

The DGCA also said that pilots, cabin crew and ground staff who have reported any kind of stress should not be put on duty, and the airline should carry out regular maintenance of its aircraft even if they are currently grounded.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Edited by Martin Howell)

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: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai
FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai, India, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Aftab Ahmed and Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s government has asked state-run banks to rescue privately held Jet Airways without pushing it into bankruptcy, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election, two people within the administration told Reuters.

The finance ministry has in the past year sought regular updates from the banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), on Jet’s financial health, the people said. In recent months, the banks have provided weekly updates about a revival plan and also sought government advice, the people added.

“Top officials at the finance ministry seek regular updates on the issue,” said an official at one of Jet’s lenders, who did not want to be identified as discussions are private.

Details of the discussion between the finance ministry and bankers on bailing out Jet have not been previously reported.

New Delhi has urged state-run banks to convert debt into equity and take a stake in Jet in a rare move in India to use taxpayer money to save a struggling private-sector company from bankruptcy. The two people plus one more source, however, said this would be “transitory” and lenders could sell the stakes once Jet revives.

The government has also nudged its 49 percent-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) – created to invest in stalled and new infrastructure projects – to buy a stake in Jet, a separate government source said.

Saddled with more than 1 billion dollars of debt, Jet is struggling to stay aloft. It has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, employees and aircraft lessors – some of which have begun terminating lease deals.

The world’s biggest democracy is gearing up for an election next month and its booming aviation sector, which employs close to a million people, has been one of the job-creation success stories that Modi can point to as he seeks a second term.

It is crucial for India that Jet revives as the fall of its second-largest airline could have “disastrous consequences for the investment climate” in the sector, a top government official told Reuters.

The official is concerned that if Jet collapses it could drive up airfare in a fast-growing market, wiping out efforts to bring low-cost air travel to India’s hinterland.

A chaotic end could also make it more difficult for the government to sell a stake in Air India, at least in the short run. Last year, it failed to sell part of its stake in the indebted carrier which currently relies on taxpayer money.

If the government’s plan for Jet succeeds, then state-run banks including SBI and Punjab National Bank (PNB) as well as NIIF would together own at least a third of the airline until they find a new buyer.

Currently, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is Jet’s largest shareholder with a 24 percent stake.

India’s finance ministry, SBI, PNB and Jet Airways did not respond to requests for comment.

KINGFISHER’S COLLAPSE

Most companies in Jet’s financial condition would be placed by creditors into India’s new bankruptcy process, two bankers said. However, memories of the chaos sparked by Kingfisher Airlines’ demise in 2012 have prompted the government to seek a more sober road to rescue, they said.

Kingfisher’s bankruptcy caused job losses, lessors lost millions of dollars and banks took massive writedowns.

Putting what is essentially a services provider like Jet through the bankruptcy process would diminish its value because it owns no major assets, unlike a manufacturing company, as most of its planes are leased, said another government official.

If it is pushed into bankruptcy and lessors start pulling even more planes out of service, there would be nothing left for any potential investors, the official said. Already 41 planes have been grounded by lessors in the past three months, leading to flight cancellations.

While on the surface Jet’s future still hangs in the balance with its main shareholder Etihad at loggerheads over the final terms of any deal, behind-the-scenes support from the government means there is likely to be a bailout.

But there are no easy options, one of the sources said, adding that the lenders do not have the expertise to run an airline so they have to decide what to do once they convert their debt into equity.

New Delhi is also backing a proposal for Jet’s founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal to step down if it means saving the airline, another official said.

“Saving Jet is not equivalent to saving Goyal,” the official said.

RISING AIRFARE

Jet, with its fleet of 119 planes, once controlled a sixth of India’s domestic aviation market. The 25-year-old airline is also one of only two full-service carriers that flies to international destinations. The other is Air India.

The government ideally wants four to six major airlines to ensure fares are competitive and passengers have greater choice, according to the top government source.

India plans to build 100 new airports costing about $60 billion which would need a steady stream of flights to sustain them, and that is possible only if there are enough airlines, a separate official said.

“The investment in these airports will solely depend on operators willing to have regular flights at affordable prices and one operator going bankrupt does not help,” he said.

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Aditi Shah; Editing by Martin Howell and Christopher Cushing)

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.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Ethiopian Federal policemen stand near engine parts at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu
FILE PHOTO – Ethiopian Federal policemen stand near engine parts 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

March 18, 2019

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Investigators probing the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX jet eight days ago have found strong similarities in the ‘angle of attack’ data recorded by the doomed aircraft’s cockpit recorder and data from a Lion Air jet of the same model that crashed in October, a person familiar with the matter said.

Graphs of the two sets of data are “very, very simliar,” the person said on Monday, asking not to be identified because the matter is still in the early stages of investigation.

The angle is a key flight parameter that must remain narrow enough to preserve lift and avoid an aerodynamic stall.

A flight deck computer’s response to readings from an apparently faulty angle-of-attack sensor is at the centre of an ongoing probe into the Lion Air disaster.

The similarity between the two data readings on the Ethiopian and Lion Air flights will be subjected to further investigation, the person said.

Ethiopian and other investigators were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

Source: OANN

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

A trader works on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 18, 2019

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures eked out gains on Monday following the S&P and Nasdaq’s strongest weekly gain this year, while investors waited for further details from a Federal Reserve policy meeting later this week.

The Dow futures were under pressure from shares of Boeing Co which slipped 3 percent in premarket trading after Ethiopia said an initial analysis of black boxes showed “clear similarities” in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane with October’s Lion Air crash.

Both planes were Boeing’s money-spinning MAX 8s and concerns over the plane’s safety led to its grounding around the world last week, wiping off nearly $24.6 billion from Boeing’s market value.

At 7:07 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 48 points, or 0.19 percent.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.75 points, or 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.12 percent.

In focus this week is the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting which begins on Tuesday, where the central bank is widely expected to stick to its pledge of a “patient” approach to monetary policy.

Investors will be looking for whether policymakers will have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to more closely align their “dot plot”, a diagram showing individual policymakers’ rate views for the next three years.

Also expected are more details on a plan to stop cutting the Fed’s holdings of nearly $3.8 trillion in bonds.

Traders currently expect there will be no interest rate hikes this year, and are even building in bets for a rate cut in 2020.

This comes on the heels of a batch of weak economic data last week that validated the Fed’s decision to remain less aggressive on raising rates which supported markets.

That added to hopes of a positive outcome from the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks and helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq end last week at five-month highs and notch their best weekly gain this year.

The benchmark index now remains just 3.8 percent away from its September all-time closing high.

In economic news, the National Association of Home Builders’ housing market index is expected to show a reading of 63 in March, up from 62 in February. The data is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Actor Krause announces the nominations for the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills
FILE PHOTO: Actor Peter Krause announces the nominations for the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

March 18, 2019

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If you are looking for steady work, it is probably best not to go into show business. Unless you are Peter Krause, that is.

The 53-year-old Minnesota native has been a staple of U.S. TV screens for years, with roles in shows like “Sports Night,” “Six Feet Under,” “Parenthood,” and his current series “9-1-1,” which begins its spring season tonight on Fox.

For the latest in Reuters’ “Life Lessons” series, Krause talked with us about the heartland principles that have kept him working steadily in Hollywood for a couple of decades.

Q: Was an acting career always on your radar, even as a kid?

A: When I turned 16 in Roseville, Minnesota, it was expected that I would get a job, so I got one at the local movie theater.

It’s gone now, which is kind of sad. But I got to see every movie that came out, multiple times: Films like “The Mission,” “Chariots of Fire,” “On Golden Pond,” and “The Pope of Greenwich Village.”

So I got to really study those performances, even though I wasn’t thinking about being an actor at the time.

Q: Did your folks give you a hard time about your career choice?

A: My dad was a farm kid, always doing chores, who didn’t even have plumbing or electricity until he was 16. By the time he was 18, he was boots on the ground in Germany, as part of the army of occupation after World War Two. So the idea of acting was very foreign to him. We had a bit of a battle at first.

Q: What was the money situation like early on?

A: My parents didn’t have a lot of money. All of our family vacations were by car. So when I flew into New York City to go to New York University, I had never even been on a plane before.

I took the bus from LaGuardia Airport to Grand Central Station, and then walked from there down to NYU, which was about 40 blocks. Seeing the city like that was a shock to the system, since I had grown up in a small town in the middle of cornfields.

Q: Were those early acting years tough financially?

A: I had been bartending on Broadway in theaters, which is where I first met Aaron Sorkin, who was a bar manager at the Palace Theatre at the time, when they were playing “La Cage aux Folles.”

But one of my first shows out of college was with Carol Burnett, which was helpful with my parents, because they knew who she was. I finally got to take my dad out for lunch, and grabbed the check and signed the bill. He looked at me and said, “Well, this is different.”

Q: Which of your roles taught you the most?

A: All roles teach you something new. Different characters have different life rules, and some of those characters end up bleeding into me a little.

Nate Fisher from “Six Feet Under” was very difficult to play, because he was so at odds with himself all the time. That was a defining moment in my career. Working on that show was like a daily meditation on life and death.

Q: Have you thought about the future, and what retirement is going to look like for you?

A: I don’t plan on retiring. I’ll do this as long as I can. I still enjoy acting as much as I ever did. Right now on “9-1-1” I get to be a firefighter, which is basically my childhood dream come true.

Q: You have a kid, so what life lessons do you try to pass along to him?

A: He just turned 17, so I have taught him all sorts of things: How to ride a bike, drive a car. I was even his baseball coach for three years. What I have tried to impart to him the most is to figure out what makes him happy. For myself, I spent a fair amount of time trying to make my parents happy, and wanting to be a success in their eyes. That kind of messed me up. So I want to get my son to listen to his own compass.

(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(Editing by Beth Pinsker; Editing by David Gregorio)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading informations for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading informations for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Boeing Co shares fell by more than 2.2 percent early on Monday, after a pair of newspaper reports over the weekend raised more questions about the certification process for its 737 MAX jets before two recent deadly crashes.

A Wall Street Journal report on Sunday said that the U.S. Transportation Department was probing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of the 737 MAX and in particular its anti-stall (MCAS) system.

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

Shares of the company have declined about 10 percent since the March 10 Ethiopian crash that killed 157 people, wiping nearly $25 billion off its market capitalization, according to Refinitiv data.

Ethiopia said on Sunday that the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had “clear similarities” with October’s Lion Air crash.

The U.S. Transportation Department’s inquiry, which was launched in the wake of the accident in October that killed 189 people, has warned two FAA offices to safeguard computer files, the WSJ reported.

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

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – European stocks extended a recent run of gains on Monday, helped by a jump in shares in German lenders Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank after they confirmed over the weekend they were in talks to merge.

Deutsche Bank’s shares rose 3.4 percent and Commerzbank’s shares jumped 5.4 percent, lifting Europe’s banking sector by 0.6 percent.

The banks issued short statements following separate meetings of their management boards, indicating a quickening of pace in the merger process, although both also warned that a deal was far from certain.

They topped the gainers on the pan-European STOXX 600 index, which gained 0.14 percent at 0823 GMT, surpassing a five-month closing high it hit on Friday on the back of hopes of a less chaotic Brexit and progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

London’s FTSE 100 outperformed its euro-peers with a 0.3 percent gain at the start of a week that is expected to see parliament voting for a third time on Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s Brexit plan after ruling out a near-term no-deal exit.

Among other individual movers, Germany’s automotive cable and wiring system specialist Leoni sank almost 20 percent to its lowest in nearly nine years after the company abandoned a 2019 profit target it issued just last month, unveiled job cuts as well as possible divestments and said its finance chief would quit.

Boeing’s Frankfurt-listed shares dropped 2 percent after the Seattle Times reported the plane maker’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on MAX jets, one of those that crashed last week in Ethiopia.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The tails of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: The tails of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

March 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Sunday it was finalizing the development of a software upgrade and a revision of pilot training for its 737 MAX, the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed, killing 157 people on March 10.

The updates are intended to address how the aircraft’s flight control system – MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System – responds to erroneous sensor inputs, the planemaker said https://boeing.mediaroom.com/2019-03-17-Boeing-CEO-Muilenburg-Issues-Statement-on-Ethiopian-Airlines-Flight-302-Accident-Investigation in a statement.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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

Candles arranged in a heart-shape at a prayer session, as relatives mourn their kin, during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, at the Kenyan Embassy in Addis Ababa
Candles arranged in a heart-shape at a prayer session, as relatives mourn their kin, during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, at the Kenyan Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 17, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An aircraft hangar in the Ethiopian capital was filled with the white roses as aviation staff gathered on Sunday to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with 149 passengers in the Ethiopia Airlines crash a week ago.

Weeping women held slender single stems in their shaking hands and banks of the flowers, traditionally used to mark the passing of lives, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

A band – some of the musicians in tears – played traditional Amharic music. The music stopped temporarily as band members ran to comfort bereaved relatives who lunged forward, wailing to grieve over the coffins.

“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest in a traditional black turban and black robes told the crowd.

“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms.

At least the crash had taken place in Ethiopia – the holy land – he said, prompting “amens” from the crowd.

In faraway Paris, investigators are examining black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

Both crashes involved the same model of plane – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – causing aviation authorities to ground the model around the world after last week’s accident.

But in the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honoring their dead.

In the aircraft hangar, a banner offered “deepest condolences and comfort” to the families of the deceased crew.

A female flight attendant spoke warmly of the deceased captain, Yared Getachew.

“He was a really nice person, a good person, all the words you can find to talk about a good person apply. He was a very kind human being,” she said, before dissolving in tears.

A service for the families of passengers is scheduled later on Sunday. Relatives of the families – more than 30 nationalities were onboard – will gather beneath the pink stone spires of Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The families have been given charred earth from the crash site to bury, because most of the bodies were destroyed by the impact and fire. Identifying the small remains that have been collected may take up to six months.

(GRAPHIC – Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(GRAPHIC – Grounded flights: https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6jQbI)

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Indian police officer fires tear gas shell towards demonstrators in Srinagar
FILE PHOTO: An Indian police officer fires a tear gas shell towards demonstrators, during a protest against the recent killings in Kashmir, in Srinagar May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Ismail/File Photo

March 17, 2019

By Sanjeev Miglani and Drazen Jorgic

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The sparring between India and Pakistan last month threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by U.S. officials, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events said.

At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”, according to Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.

The way in which tensions suddenly worsened and threatened to trigger a war between the nuclear-armed nations shows how the Kashmir region, which both claim and is at the core of their enmity, remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

The exchanges did not get beyond threats, and there was no suggestion that the missiles involved were anything more than conventional weapons, but they created consternation in official circles in Washington, Beijing and London.

Reuters has pieced together the events that led to the most serious military crisis in South Asia since 2008, as well as the concerted diplomatic efforts to get both sides to back down.

The simmering dispute erupted into conflict late last month when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

In their first such clash since the last war between the two nations in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Hours later, videos of the bloodied Indian pilot, handcuffed and blindfolded, appeared on social media, identifying himself to Pakistani interrogators, deepening anger in New Delhi.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi facing a general election in April-May, the government was under pressure to respond.

“NO GOING BACK”

That evening, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spoke over a secure line to the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Asim Munir, to tell him India was not going to back off its new campaign of “counter terrorism” even after the pilot’s capture, an Indian government source and a Western diplomat with knowledge of the conversations told Reuters in New Delhi.

Doval told Munir that India’s fight was with the militant groups that freely operated from Pakistani soil and it was prepared to escalate, said the government source.

A Pakistani government minister and a Western diplomat in Islamabad separately confirmed a specific Indian threat to use six missiles on targets inside Pakistan. They did not specify who delivered the threat or who received it, but the minister said Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies “were communicating with each other during the fight, and even now they are communicating with each other”.

Pakistan said it would counter any Indian missile attacks with many more launches of its own, the minister told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We said if you will fire one missile, we will fire three. Whatever India will do, we will respond three times to that,” the Pakistani minister said.

Doval’s office did not respond to a request for comment. India was not aware of any missile threat issued to Pakistan, a government official said in reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Pakistan’s military declined to comment and Munir could not be reached for comment. Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

TRUMP-KIM TALKS

The crisis unfolded as U.S. President Donald Trump was trying to hammer out an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi over its nuclear program.

U.S. security advisor Bolton was on the phone with Doval on the night of Feb 27 itself, and into the early hours of Feb 28, the second day of the Trump-Kim talks, in an attempt to defuse the situation, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and the Indian official said.

Later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also in Hanoi, also called both sides to seek a way out of the crisis.

“Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a briefing in Washington on March 5.

A State Department official declined comment when asked if they knew of the threats to use missiles.

Pompeo spoke to Doval, the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, respectively, Palladino said.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson told reporters in Singapore last week that he had separately been in touch with the Indian navy chief, Sunil Lanba, throughout the crisis. There was no immediate response from Lanba’s office to a question on the nature of the conversations.

U.S. efforts were focused on securing the quick release of the Indian pilot by Pakistan and winning an assurance from India it would pull back from the threat to fire rockets, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and officials in Washington said.

“We made a lot of effort to get the international community involved in encouraging the two sides to de-escalate the situation because we fully realized how dangerous it was,” said a senior Trump administration official.

The Pakistani minister said China and the United Arab Emirates also intervened. China’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The government of the UAE said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan held talks with both Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

India has not given details, but has said it was in touch with major powers during the conflict.

On the morning of Feb 28, Trump told reporters in Hanoi that he expected the crisis to end soon.

“They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop. Hopefully that is going to be coming to an end.”

Later that afternoon, Khan announced in Pakistan’s parliament that the Indian pilot would be released, and he was sent back the next day.

“I know last night there was a threat there could a missile attack on Pakistan, which got defused,” Khan said. “I know, our army stood prepared for retaliation of that attack.”

The two countries have gone to war three times since both gained independence in 1947, the last time in 1971. The two armies are trading fire along the line of control that separates them in Kashmir, but the tensions appear contained for now.

Diplomatic experts said that the latest crisis underlined the chances of misread signals and unpredictability in the ties between the nuclear-armed rivals, and the huge dangers. It still was not clear whether India had targeted a militant camp in Pakistan and whether there were any casualties, they said.

“Indian and Pakistani leaders have long evinced confidence that they can understand each other’s deterrence signals and can de-escalate at will,” said Joshua White, a former White House official who is now at Johns Hopkins.

“The fact that some of the most basic facts, intentions and attempted strategic signals of this crisis are still shrouded in mystery … should be a sobering reminder that neither country is in a position to easily control a crisis once it begins.”.

(Additional reporting by Asif Shahzad in ISLAMABAD, Phil Stewart, Mark Hosenball, Jonathan Landay in WASHINGTON, Joe Brock in Singapore and William James in London; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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

Member of a rescue team stands at the secured wreckage of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
A member of a rescue team stands at the secured wreckage 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 Aaron Maasho and Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines said on Saturday that DNA testing of the remains of the 157 passengers on board flight 302 may take up to six months as it offered bereaved families charred earth from the plane crash site to bury.

A team of investigators in Paris have begun examining the black box recorders recovered from the site where the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed into a field on Sunday after taking off from Addis Ababa. Passengers from more than 30 nations were aboard.

As families wait for the results from the investigation into the cause of the crash, Ethiopian Airlines is planning to hold a service on Sunday in Addis Ababa, at the Kidist Selassie, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, where many of the country’s past rulers are buried beneath its pink stone spires.

“We were told by the company that we will be given a kilo (of earth) each for burial at Selassie Church for a funeral they will organize,” said one family member who asked not to be named.

Papers given to the families at the Skylight Hotel on Saturday said death certificates would be issued within two weeks, and an initial payment made to cover immediate expenses.

The return of remains – most of which are charred and fragmented – would take up to six months, the papers said, but in the meantime earth from the crash site would be given.

Abdulmajid Sheriff, a Kenyan whose Yemeni brother-in-law died, said they had already held a service.

“We are Muslims we didn’t care about that (earth). We did yesterday our prayers at the mosque and that is all for us.”

Experts say it is too soon to know what caused the crash, but aviation authorities worldwide have grounded Boeing’s 737 MAXs, as concerns over the plane caused the company’s share price to tumble by around 10 percent.

Flight data has already indicated some similarities with a crash by the same model of plane during a Lion Air flight in October. All 189 people onboard were killed. Both planes crashed within minutes of take off after pilots reported problems.

The grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets after the crash in Ethiopia has had no immediate financial impact on airlines using the planes, but it will get painful for the industry the longer they do not fly, companies and analysts said on Friday

Boeing plans to release upgraded software for its 737 MAX in a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said.

The U.S. planemaker 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.

(GRAPHIC: Grounded flights – https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6jQbI)

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Hernan Rincon, executive president and CEO of AVIANCA Holdings S.A., speaks during a news conference at Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa
FILE PHOTO – Hernan Rincon, executive president and CEO of AVIANCA Holdings S.A., speaks during a new aircraft presentation ceremony at Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

March 15, 2019

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Colombian airline Avianca Holdings canceled an order of 17 Airbus A320 Neo aircraft and delayed deliveries on 35 others, according to a securities filing on Friday.

Avianca said this would reduce its financial commitments between 2020 and 2022 by $2.6 billion. The Colombian carrier has shifted its strategy to focus on profitability from growth.

The airline is following in the footstep of regional rival LATAM Airlines, which in recent months has said it was reducing future fleet commitments by $2.2 billion.

Avianca, United Continental Holdings Inc and Panama’s Copa Holdings announced late last year that they would form an alliance to try to expand their reach in the Latin American market, excluding Brazil.

Avianca is separate from Avianca Brasil, a struggling carrier that filed for bankruptcy in December, although they share owners. Up until last month, the two airlines had been carrying out due diligence for a potential merger, but that process has been suspended.

(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Christian Plumb and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

NRA American Rifleman | Contributor

It’s no secret that long-range shooting has become extremely popular in this country. Whether participating in precision rifle competitions, hunting at extended ranges or merely plinking on steel targets, America’s rifleman are interested in shooting farther than ever. Optics, along with a suitable rifle and ammunition, are a key element in the long-range shooting equation, and can often mean the difference between success and failure. To fill this expanding niche, Leupold has developed the Mark 5HD 5-25X 56 mm

As could be expected, the Mark 5HD 5-25X 56 mm is a big scope; it’s almost 16″ long, with much of that length extending forward of the mounting area (or body tube) of the scope. That said, the Mark 5HD is actually a full pound lighter than many other models in the long-range precision category. The main tube is 35 mm in diameter, which means that the current selection of mounts is slim. At the time of this writing, 35 mm mounting solutions are available from Leupold, Badger Ordnance and Geissele. There is a reason for the large tube, though—the ability to dial sufficient elevation adjustment is a key element of long-range shooting. The Mark 5HD’s generous tube diameter gives it an impressive elevation-adjustment range of 120 m.o.a./34.9 mils, and a windage range of 60 m.o.a./17.5 mils.

The scope’s parallax can be adjusted, via a side focus knob, from 75 yds. to infinity.

This optic features a 5:1 magnification ratio, from 5X to 25X, with adjustments made by turning the power ring located just forward of the ocular lens housing. A threaded and removable throw lever gives the user added leverage, a useful feature when making adjustments from field positions. The Mark 5HD’s parallax can be adjusted via a side-focus knob, with seven yardage graduations from 75 yds. to infinity.

The Mark 5HD uses turret-style adjustments for both elevation and windage in 0.1-mil graduations; each click is both audible and tactile. The most efficient method of zeroing this scope is to remove the adjustment turret by loosening the hex screws, which reveals a single flat-blade screw head. Using a screwdriver to make the requisite adjustments makes the process fast and simple, and, once the rifle is zeroed, remounting the turret caps at the “0” position means that the dials are automatically calibrated.

A mechanical indicator built into the scope’s elevation-adjustment turret (r.) provides both tactile and visual feedback as to how many revolutions the knob has been turned.


When dialing for elevation, it’s not uncommon for a shooter to lose track of both his zero and the position of his turret—especially when a turret can turn multiple revolutions as this one does. The Mark 5HD provides solutions for both of those potential problems. The first is an adjustable zero stop that prevents the user from dialing below “0” when the turret is installed correctly: When in doubt, dial clockwise until the turret stops. The second issue can arise when dialing for true long range and the shooter isn’t certain how many revolutions the turret has made. On this optic, the turret utilizes a mechanical indicator that provides tactile and visual feedback as to the turret’s position so that it’s useful in any lighting condition. 

In order for a scope to be truly useful for long-range shooting, its adjustments must be both reliable and repeatable. To properly evaluate the capabilities of this optic, we mounted it to a Bergara B-14 BMP chassis rifle chambered in 6.5 mm Creedmoor that has proven itself to be capable of consistent sub-m.o.a. accuracy. With a 100-yd. zero established, we fired a test group to set a baseline for the rifle, optic and ammunition.

With a confirmed zero, we then “shot the square” by firing a shot and then dialing either one mil of elevation or windage before firing a subsequent shot and repeating that step in a clockwise direction. This ensures that the scope’s internals tracked accurately and repeatably. If everything goes as planned, the bullet holes on the target form the corners of a perfect box shape. This scope passed that test, so we progressed to an elevation challenge that would simulate a long-range shot: we hung a perfectly level target downrange, calibrated with two dots separated by four mils of elevation. A shot was taken at the lower target, and then the elevation was dialed into the scope to ensure that the point of impact not only moved the correct distance but also that it tracked in a perfectly vertical plane. The Leupold passed this test as well. The scope consistently returned to a precise zero, no matter what adjustments were made—a trait that is not as common as one might assume.

Our test model came equipped with Leupold’s TMR reticle, mounted in the scope’s front focal plane; the CCH, H-59 and Tremor 3 reticles are also available. The TMR uses hash marks to denote windage and elevation holds—these marks occur at 0.5-mil intervals for the first four mils and then transition to 0.2-mil spacing. Because it’s a first-focal-plane reticle, the graduations are calibrated correctly regardless of the magnification setting.

The generous eye box, long eye relief, positive adjustments and intuitive controls made this a very easy scope to master. Clarity was excellent, thanks to the quality of the lenses and their coatings. While optical quality usually ranks below the precision of the adjustments in priority when it comes to long-range shooting, the ability to spot hits and misses downrange is a key attribute, especially in the competitive realm.

This is not a budget-priced scope, and its price tag makes it ineligible for use in the Production Division of the Precision Rifle Series, but it is considerably less expensive than the two most popular precision scopes on the market, so everything is relative. The Mark 5HD is designed, machined and assembled in the United States.   

The Mark 5HD 5-25X 56 mm is Leupold’s answer to the premium, long-range precision optics craze, and it follows the Oregon maker’s tradition of being lighter and sleeker than the competition. This is a serious scope for true long-range applications, and, according to our testing, it meets the stringent criteria that those users demand.

Thanks to American Rifleman for this post. Click here to visit AmericanRifleman.org.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

Villagers gather wreckages of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
Villagers gather wreckages of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 15, 2019

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Trucks and excavators are going onto the site of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, causing concern that vital evidence may be lost or crushed, two diplomatic sources said on Friday.

Some policemen have also been taking selfies inside the yellow tape lines demarcating the scene, witnesses said.

The crash five days ago killed 157 people, brought a global suspension of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and left a charred, debris-strewn crater in an Ethiopian field.

“The handling of the site is disastrous because they are letting trucks and excavators drive over it,” an Addis Ababa-based diplomat, who has visited the site and is representing some families of victims, told Reuters.

“There are concerns especially about the use of excavators. People are wondering how you can use them for recovery in such a site,” said another diplomatic source in Ethiopia who has visited the site multiple times this week.

Flight 302 crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, leaving a hole 10 meters (33 feet) deep. The impact and fire left the plane in small fragments and destroyed the bodies of any passengers, leaving only remains.

Ethiopian Airlines did not respond to requests for comment on the handling of the site, but has assured the world it will investigate as quickly and seriously as possible.

Reuters reporters at the scene have seen excavators scooping up dirt, personal effects and bits of metal from the plane.

The debris is mostly piled at one side of the field, while rescue workers have bagged and removed what they could find of human remains.

Since Sunday, Red Cross workers and investigators have been combing the site, while grieving families have gathered to mourn and villagers have stood beyond the yellow tape watching.

On Monday, Ethiopian police who came to take over guarding the site for the evening walked under the tape and across the site as it was still being cleared. Some took selfies on their mobile phones, according to Reuters witnesses.

The airline has sent the black boxes to Paris where French and U.S. experts have joined an Ethiopian-led investigation.

One airline industry source said Ethiopian government authorities had told him there were no current plans to do DNA identification. He also complained that authorities were excavating the crash site without proper procedure.

(Reporting by Addis Ababa and Nairobi bureaux; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai
FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai, India, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By Aditi Shah and Anshuman Daga

NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Some lessors of India’s Jet Airways have begun terminating lease deals over unpaid dues and are preparing to move the leased planes abroad, escalating a crisis for the cash-strapped carrier, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Two lessors have applied to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation regulator, to deregister at least five planes leased to Jet, three of the sources said. Termination of lease agreements normally precedes applications made to the DGCA.

Jet has delayed payments to its pilots, suppliers and lessors for months and defaulted on loans after racking up over $1 billion in debt. While it is now meeting some of its payments, it’s survival hinges on emergency funding from the country’s main state-backed banks.

Frustrated by the unpaid dues, Jet’s lessors, including many of the world’s biggest players such as GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), Aercap Holdings and BOC Aviation have already taken control of some their planes, sources said, leading to the grounding of nearly a third of its 119 aircraft fleet.

Once the planes are deregistered, they can be taken out of the country and leased to other airlines.

One of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that of the planes being deregistered, two are potentially being flown to China and one to Ireland.

Another industry source said GECAS and Aercap had filed an application to deregister a total of five planes.

Lease terminations could hit the already fragile confidence of business partners of Jet.

Jet did not respond to requests for comment. AerCap declined to comment and there was no immediate response from GECAS to a query sent outside normal business hours.

All the sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Founder chairman Naresh Goyal, who transformed Jet to India’s biggest full-service carrier from its humble start 25 years ago, has said it is thrashing out a bailout plan, led by the state-run banks and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

Before the groundings, Jet controlled over a sixth of the market, capitalizing on a boom in flying. But high fuel taxes, a weak rupee and ultra-low fares have hurt profitability.

Jet’s financial troubles have rekindled memories of Kingfisher Airlines’ collapse in 2012 that forced lessors to write off millions of dollars.

Last week, FLY Leasing Ltd said it had grounded three planes on lease to Jet and would take them back and reallocate them elsewhere if the airline failed to get approvals for its restructuring plan this month.

Jet has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and irate passengers have turned to social media platforms to express their outrage.

REPOSSESSION STILL TOUGH

After Kingfisher Airlines’ disorderly collapse in 2012, India modified rules in line with the Cape Town convention, an international treaty that makes it easier for foreign lessors to repossess aircraft during payment defaults.

India said last year it was seeking to revise some local laws, which still conflicted with the full implementation of the convention making it a more complicated process in India than in some other countries.

In theory, lessors have the option of filing a complaint with the government, which in turn can cancel the registration of a plane within five working days, allowing lessors to repossess it subject to certain conditions, including unpaid dues. However, this is often a long process.

According to a government notice issued in November, after any application is filed, all airport operators and other private entities, within five days, need to inform the lessor and DGCA of pending dues related to that aircraft for three months preceding the date of deregistration.

Only after these are cleared, the lessor is allowed to fly the aircraft out of India.

On March 11, DGCA clarified that some of the entities included airports, fuel vendors, tax authorities and customs departments, a move that could further complicate reposessions.

Akshay Nagpal, partner at law firm L&L Partners, said that while this notice is aimed at asking the government and other agencies to be more vigilant in seeking their dues, “one cannot rule out lessors viewing this as a step back from their long-time demand of making repossession easier.”

(Reporting by Aditi Shah and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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 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

A Saudi man who's brother died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, touches a debris after a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
A Saudi man who’s brother died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, touches a debris 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

By Tom Hals, Brendan Pierson and Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – The crash of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX 8 passenger jet in Ethiopia raises the chances that families of the 157 victims, even non-U.S. residents, will be able to sue in U.S. courts, where payouts are larger than in other countries, some legal experts said.

Sunday’s crash occurred five months after the same model of the plane went down in Indonesia, an accident that prompted a string of U.S. lawsuits against Boeing by families of the 189 victims.

While no lawsuits have yet been filed since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, some plaintiffs’ lawyers said they expect that Boeing will be sued in the United States.

Boeing did not immediately comment.

The company, which has its corporate headquarters in Chicago, has often convinced U.S. judges to dismiss air crash cases in favor of litigation in the country where the evidence and witnesses are, usually where the crash occurred.

That allows the company to avoid U.S. juries, which can award hefty punitive damages to accident victims for wrongful death, emotional suffering and economic hardships of surviving family.

Boeing may have a tougher time with that strategy after the Ethiopian crash, some legal experts said.

This is partly because eight U.S. citizens died and because plaintiffs could argue that liability hinges on system design and safety decisions made by Boeing executives since the Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

“Now with two crashes with a brand-new aircraft, what Boeing did in the intervening five months is more relevant, and that all happened in the United States,” said Daniel Rose, a lawyer with Kreindler & Kreindler, a firm that represents air crash victims and their relatives.

The causes are still unknown, but both involved a relatively new 737 MAX 8 aircraft that crashed within minutes of takeoff and experienced sudden drops in altitude when the aircrafts should have been steadily climbing.

This has raised fresh questions among regulators about a digital anti-stall system known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, designed specifically for the MAX to offset the extra lift from larger engines mounted on its low-slung frame.

In a March 4 court filing in litigation over the Indonesia crash, Boeing asked the judge to limit all discovery in the case to issues of forum, or which country the cased belonged, and said it planned to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

LIABILITY

While potential plaintiffs may name Ethiopian Airlines as a defendant in any lawsuits, the focus on the 737 MAX 8 anti-stall system makes Boeing a likely target of litigation, some lawyers said.

Arthur Wolk, an attorney who represents plaintiffs in air crash litigation and said he has been contacted by a potential plaintiff over the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said Boeing would likely face claims for strict liability. That means they could face an allegation of having sold a product that was inherently defective and dangerous.

Plaintiffs will also claim Boeing failed to exercise reasonable care in designing planes or failed to inform flight crews about how the planes operate, Wolk said.

Rose, the lawyer for passengers, said two accidents so close together will put the focus of any lawsuits on the Ethiopian crash on how Boeing tried to address problems with its MCAS system after the Lion Air crash.

“Were there other efforts by Boeing to essentially minimize the problem or hide the scope of the problem?” Rose asked. If lawyers can show Boeing management acted recklessly, it could clear the way for substantial punitive damages, he said.

Some lawyers who have worked on the other side of such cases are less sure about Boeing’s potential liability.

Kenneth Quinn, a lawyer who represents airlines and manufacturers, said he thought Boeing had a good chance of getting both sets of U.S. cases dismissed on forum grounds.

He said the trend in U.S. courts was in Boeing’s favor.

“Increasingly, attempts to litigate foreign crashes involving foreign airlines on foreign soil are being dismissed,” he said.

In November, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. dismissed a case against Boeing and other defendants stemming from the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight in 2014 because the presumed crash had a stronger connection to Malaysia than the United States.

In 2011, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed 116 wrongful death and product liability cases against Boeing over the 2008 crash of a Spanair jet on a domestic flight in Spain, where the judge determined the cases should be heard.

If the company has to defend U.S. cases, it would likely argue that claims against it are preempted because the FAA had approved the plane’s design, said Justin Green, a plaintiffs lawyer.

While manufacturers in the past have enjoyed broad protection under the Federal Aviation Act, a decision by the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals has called into question whether manufacturers can rely on preemption when they could have easily submitted changes to the FAA for approval.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Brendan Pierson in New York; additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

WestJet airline signage is pictured at Vancouver's international airport in Richmond,
WestJet airline signage is pictured at Vancouver’s international airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

March 14, 2019

MONTREAL (Reuters) – WestJet Airlines said it canceled 11 flights on Thursday impacting 1,200 passengers, following the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes because of safety concerns.

Canada and the United States announced on Wednesday they would follow other nations in grounding the MAX planes, citing new satellite data and evidence from the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday that killed 157 people.

Canada’s second-largest carrier WestJet, which operated 13 MAX planes, said in a statement on Thursday that more than three-quarters of passengers impacted by the cancellations will be rebooked on flights today, with the remainder being rebooked this week.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert)

Source: OANN


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