There is a “clear similarity” between last weekend’s Ethiopian Airlines crash and October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister has said.
Dagmawit Moges cited preliminary data retrieved from the flight data recorder of the Ethiopian Airlines plane.
The official claimed the black box from the 10 March disaster was in good condition and almost all data had been extracted.
He said his government plans to release detailed findings of doomed Flight ET302 within a month.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 – bound for Nairobi in Kenya – crashed shortly after taking off from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa last Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.
The victims came from 35 countries, and many humanitarian workers were on board.
On 29 October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, which also involved a Boeing 737 MAX 8, came down into the sea off Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
The US and many other countries, including the UK, have now grounded MAX 8s.
Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to both tragedies.
According to reports, a voice from the Ethiopian Airlines cockpit had requested to climb to 14,000ft above sea level – about 6,400ft above the airport – before urgently asking to return.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says satellite tracking data shows Flight ET302 made similar manoeuvres to those of Lion Air Flight 610.
Both jets flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to bring the aircraft under control.
Shortly after take-off, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.
Meanwhile, a mass funeral ceremony has taken place for victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, with 17 empty caskets draped in the nation’s flag carried through the streets of Addis Ababa.
Thousands of mourners attended the service, and some of the victims’ relatives fainted and fell to the ground.
On Saturday, officials began delivering bags of scorched mud from the crash site to relatives of those who died – amid warnings that identifying their remains is expected to take a long time.
Forensic DNA work to identify those who died may take six months, but authorities say they will issue death certificates within two weeks.
Relatives said they would not be content until work had been carried out to reunite them with their loved ones’ remains.
One family member said: “The soil came as it became impossible to identify bodies and hand over remains to family members.
“We will not rest until we are given the real body or body parts of our loved ones.”
At Bole International Airport, weeping women held white roses in their shaking hands before lunging forward, wailing in grief over caskets.