Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302
Ethiopian Airlines ET-AVJ takeoff from TLV (46461974574).jpg
ET-AVJ, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen in February 2019
Accident
Date 10 March 2019 (2019-03-10)
Summary Crashed shortly after take-off; under investigation
Site Tulu Fara village near Bishoftu, Ethiopia
8°52′37″N 39°15′04″E / 8.87694°N 39.25111°E / 8.87694; 39.25111Coordinates: 8°52′37″N 39°15′04″E / 8.87694°N 39.25111°E / 8.87694; 39.25111[1]
Aircraft
Aircraft type Boeing 737 MAX 8
Operator Ethiopian Airlines
IATA flight No. ET302
ICAO flight No. ETH302
Call sign ETHIOPIAN 302
Registration ET-AVJ
Flight origin Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Destination Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya
Occupants 157
Passengers 149
Crew 8
Fatalities 157
Survivors 0

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. On 10 March 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft which operated the flight crashed six minutes after takeoff, near the town of Bishoftu, killing all 157 people aboard. The cause of the accident is currently unknown and is under investigation.

Flight 302 is the deadliest accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft to date, surpassing the fatal hijacking of Flight 961 resulting in a crash near the Comoros in 1996.[2] It is also the deadliest aircraft accident to occur in Ethiopia, surpassing the crash of an Ethiopian Air Force Antonov An-26 in 1982, which killed 73.[3]

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 model first flew on 29 January 2016 and entered service in 2017, making it one of the newest aircraft in Boeing's commercial airliner offerings, and the newest generation of Boeing 737.[4] As of February 2019, 376 aircraft of this model have been produced, and one other has crashed, Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018.[5][2][6][7] Following the accident, the Boeing 737 MAX series of aircraft was grounded by various airlines and government regulators worldwide.

Accident

Flight 302 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. The aircraft took off from Addis Ababa at 08:38 local time (05:38 UTC) with 149 passengers and 8 crew on board.[5] One minute into the flight, the pilot reported a “flight control” problem but decided to continue the flight; three minutes into the flight the aircraft accelerated beyond its safety limits,[better source needed] and the pilot requested permission to return to Addis Ababa while the air traffic controllers had already been diverting other approaching flights.[8]

However, the aircraft then disappeared from radar screens and crashed at 08:44, six minutes after takeoff, having reached an altitude of about 9,000 feet MSL.[1][2][9][10] Flight tracking data showed that the aircraft's altitude and rate of climb and descent were fluctuating.[11] Several witnesses stated the plane trailed "white smoke" and made strange noises before crashing.[12] It crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres (39 mi) southeast of Bole International Airport.[13] Photographs of the accident site show a large crater with only small pieces of wreckage.[14] There were no survivors.[5]

Aircraft

The aircraft was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered ET-AVJ (construction number 62450, manufacturer's serial number 7243), powered by two CFM International LEAP engines.[9] The aircraft was manufactured in October 2018 and delivered on 15 November 2018, making it around four months old at the time of the accident.[15][16]

Passengers and crew

The airline stated that the flight’s 149 passengers had 35 different nationalities,[17] listed in the following table:

Passengers by nationality [18]
Nationality Deaths
Kenya 32
Canada 18
Ethiopia 9
China 8[a]
Italy 8
United States 8
France 7
United Kingdom 7
Egypt 6
Germany 5
India 4
Slovakia 4
Austria 3
Russia 3
Sweden 3
Israel 2
Morocco 2
Poland 2
Spain 2
Belgium 1
Djibouti 1
Indonesia 1
Ireland 1
Mozambique 1
Nepal 1
Nigeria 1
Norway 1
Rwanda 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Serbia 1
Somalia 1
Sudan 1
Togo 1
Uganda 1
Yemen 1
Total 149

All passengers and crew on board, 157 in total, were killed in the accident.[2] Many of the passengers were travelling to Nairobi to attend the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly.[20] Twelve of the victims worked for the United Nations (UN),[21] and at least another seven had other UN affiliations.[22] Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi have offices of UN agencies, and Addis Ababa has the head office of the African Union.[23]

Victims included the Italian archaeologist and Councillor for Cultural Heritage of Sicily, Sebastiano Tusa, and Nigerian-Canadian academic Pius Adesanmi.[24][25] It was originally reported that there were five Dutch victims,[26] but this was later corrected to state that they were German.[27] Slovak politician Anton Hrnko lost his wife and two children in the crash.[2] A Greek man and an Emirati man missed the flight and avoided the disaster.[22]

The airline stated that one passenger had a United Nations laissez-passer.[17]

The captain of the plane was Yared Getachew, who had been flying with the airline for ten years and had logged a total of 8,231 flight hours. He had been a Boeing 737 captain since November 2017.[28][29][17] At the time of the accident, he was the youngest captain at the airline.[29] The first officer, Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur, was a recent graduate from the airline's academy with 350 flight hours logged.[29][17][30]

Responses

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed offered his condolences to the families of the victims.[5] Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam visited the accident site, confirmed that there were no survivors and expressed sympathy and condolences.[31] Boeing issued a statement of condolence.[32]

The Ethiopian parliament declared 11 March as a day of national mourning.[33] During the opening of the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, a minute of silence was observed in sympathy for the victims.[34] President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, in his condolence message on behalf of the government and the people of Nigeria, extended his sincere condolences to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, the people of Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, China and all other nations who lost citizens in the crash.[35]

On 11 March, the FAA commented that the Boeing 737 Max 8 model was airworthy. However, due to concerns on the operation of the aircraft, the FAA ordered Boeing to implement design changes, effective by April.[36] It stated that Boeing "plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals in response to the design change" to the aircraft's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The changes will also include enhancements to the activation of the MCAS and the angle of attack signal.[37] Boeing stated that the upgrade was developed in response to the Lion Air crash but did not link it to the Ethiopian Airlines crash.[38]

Flight International commented that the accident would likely increase unease about the Boeing 737 MAX felt in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident in October 2018, which similarly occurred shortly after take-off and killed everyone aboard.[39] Boeing has lost around 26.6 billion dollars in its market value since the crash dropping 11% over the weekend.[40]

Groundings

As a result of the accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 crash, which occurred five months prior to the Ethiopian crash, most airlines and countries began grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 (and in many cases all MAX variants) due to safety concerns. Airlines grounding their MAX fleets included Aerolineas Argentinas,[41] Aeromexico,[41] Cayman Airways,[42] Ethiopian Airlines,[43] GOL,[41] MIAT Mongolian Airlines,[36] LOT Polish Airlines,[44] Royal Air Maroc,[45] Sunwing,[46] and Comair Limited.[47] Some aviation authorities have grounded all MAX aircraft under their jurisdiction, also encompassing transiting flights, including the Civil Aviation Administration of China,[48] the European Aviation Safety Agency,[49] India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation,[49] Indonesia's Directorate General of Civil Aviation,[50][48] the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia,[51] the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia,[52] South Korea's Office of Civil Aviation,[53] the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore,[54] Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure,[55] the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority,[56] Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority,[57][58] the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand,[59] Transport Canada,[60] and the United States' Federal Aviation Administration.[61]

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initially declined to ground 737 MAX aircraft under its jurisdiction.[62][63] An emergency order was eventually issued grounding the aircraft worldwide after agreement between the FAA and Boeing.[64]

Investigation

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, the agency responsible for investigating civil aviation accidents in Ethiopia, has been investigating. The aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, stated that it is prepared to work with the United States National Transportation Safety Board and assist Ethiopian Airlines.[32] The United States Federal Aviation Administration will also assist in the investigation.[65]

Both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered from the crash site on 11 March.[66] U.S. officials urged Ethiopian Airlines officials to send the voice and data recorders to the United States for analysis, but airline officials told reporters that they had decided to send them to European safety experts instead.[67] Representatives from Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation said that Ethiopian authorities had contacted it about analyzing the flight recorders, but the agency declined because it did not have the software required.[68] The French aviation accident investigation agency BEA announced that it would analyze the flight recorders from the flight.[69] BEA received the flight recorders on 14 March.[70] On 17 March, the Ethiopia’s transport minister Dagmawit Moges announced that "the black box has been found in a good condition that enabled us to extract almost all the data inside" and that the preliminary data retrieved from the flight data recorder show a clear similarity with those of Lion Air Flight 610 which crashed off Indonesia.[71]

On 13 March, the FAA announced that new evidence found on the crash site and satellite data on Flight 302 suggested that the aircraft might have suffered from the same problem which the aircraft operating Lion Air Flight 610 had suffered from. Investigators discovered the jackscrew that controlled the pitch angle of the horizontal stabilizer of Flight 302, was in the full "nose down" position. The finding suggested that, at the time of the crash, Flight 302 was configured to dive, similar to Lion Air Flight 610.[72] Due to this finding, some experts in Indonesia suggested that the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) should cooperate with Flight 302's investigation team.[73] Later on the evening, the NTSC offered assistance to Flight 302's investigation team, stating that the committee and the Indonesian Transportation Ministry would send investigators and representatives from the government to assist with the investigation of the crash.[74]

See also