Police are keeping an open mind but say evidence suggested the German national was not the driver of the vehicle.
The pilots said that soon after engaging the autopilot on Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the nose tilted down sharply.
Studies show tens of thousands of Kiwis are on their phones while behind the wheel at any given time.
Yesterday's Ethiopian Airlines crash is the second disaster in less than six months involving the model.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa.
Knocked off a yacht by a swinging boom, German tourist Arne Murke had to think fast.