Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crash near Addis Ababa

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-8 Max crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa – Bole International Airport, Ethiopia. The airline reported there were no survivors amongst the 149 passengers and 8 crew members on board.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam at the crash site – photo: Ethiopian Airlines

The involved aircraft, registered ET-AVJ was the 4th of the new generation 737 in Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet, delivered in November 2018. The aircraft took off as ET302 from runway 07R of Bole Airport (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) to the intended destination Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi, Kenya) at 08:38 local time, and reports says contact was lost at 08:44. According to METAR weather reports, there was 10+ km visibility and few clouds at 2500 feet. In a press conference, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines stated that the pilots reported difficulties with the aircraft to Air Traffic Control, and was given clearance to return to the airport.

The pilot was a senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot who had flown more than 8,000 hours and his performance was described as “commendable” by the CEO.

“As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time.”
-added Mr. GebreMariam.

According to the data of flightradar24.com, the aircraft struggled to gain altitude after takeoff, and had unstable vertical speed.

Note: the displayed altitude values are measured from mean sea level, Addis Ababa airport has an elevation of 7,625 ft – photo: flightradar24.com

It was the second crash of Boeing’s modern narrow-body airliner, less than five months after a 737-8 Max of Lion Air crashed into the sea near Indonesia. The 737 Max has a safety feature, an anti-stall system, that whenever the computer receives angle information that it considers risky, it automatically tries to compensate, overriding the manual motions of the pilot. Indonesian and American aviation authorities have determined that the Lion Air 737’s abrupt nose-dive may have been caused by this feature. But until further investigation, we can only speculate whether the anti-stall system played a role in the crash of the Ethiopian airliner.

Main photo: Boeing

 

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