The pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 knew he was in serious trouble soon after the doomed flight took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, a source who has reviewed air traffic communications tells the New York Times. Captain Yared Getachew calmly reported a "flight control" problem a minute after take-off, but sounded panicked two minutes later when the Boeing 737 Max hit an abnormal speed and dipped up and down hundreds of feet. "Break break, request back to home," he told controllers. "Request vector for landing." Minutes later, the plane crashed, killing all 157 people on board.
Pilots say they don't understand why the plane accelerated to a much faster speed than normal. "The thing that is most abnormal is the speed,” aviation safety consultant and former 737 pilot John Cox tells the Times. "The question is why. The plane accelerates far faster than it should." The airline says the flight's voice and data recorders have been sent to France, where analysis has begun, the AP reports. Countries around the world have grounded the 737 Max 8 amid fears that a software flaw caused this crash and a similar one in Indonesia in October. The BBC reports that the Federal Aviation Administration says that all Max 8 and 9 planes will remain grounded until a software update can be installed and tested, which is unlikely to happen before May. (Read more Boeing stories.)