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Pilot asked to return to base before crash, Ethiopian Airlines CEO reveals

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam says the pilot had asked to return to base and his request was approved, shortly before the fatal crash.

FILE: A man carries a piece of debris on his head at the crash site of a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 10 March 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam says the pilot of the downed plane had flight control problems.

Gebremariam says the pilot had asked to return to base and his request was approved shortly before the fatal crash.

All 157 people aboard the Boeing 737 MAX 8 died when it crashed in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

This is the second crash involving the same model after a Lion Air Flight crashed in Indonesia on 29 October 2018, killing 189 people.

Gebremariam says at least 100 of these jets have now been grounded in several countries, the latest being Lebanon.

But he says more questions need to be answered.

“There are very significant similarities. Two major accidents on the same airplane, brand new airplane, within five months. So, there are a lot of questions to be answered.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)