“During the investigation of the FDR [flight data recorder], clear similarities were noted between Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which will be the subject of further investigation,” Dagmawit said.
Initial data from the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines flight as well as subsequent satellite information recovered showed an erratic flight path during the six minutes that the plane was in the air before it crashed into a field outside the capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 aboard.
The plane ascended and descended and then ascended again, all the while flying at speeds well in excess of normal takeoff procedure. The pilot, Yared Getachew, was considered very experienced, with more than 8,000 hours of flying time.
There were enough similarities to the crash of the Lion Air jet in Indonesia in October, which also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8, that authorities around the world grounded the plane.
The voice and data recorders were taken by Ethiopian investigators on Thursday to France, where they are being analyzed by the Bureau of Inquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety.
Dagmawit said the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board also was involved in the analysis.
A preliminary report about the causes of the Lion Air crash pointed to erroneous data from a sensor causing the aircraft’s new automated stabilizer system to push the jet’s nose down. The pilots struggled to pull the plane up, and it crashed into the sea.
The minister’s comments Sunday suggested that a similar series of events may have caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
In November, Boeing issued a bulletin on how to reset the stabilizer if it started to push the plane’s nose down.