Efforts are underway to understand what caused an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft to crash on March 10, 2019 while on a regular scheduled flight from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to Nairobi in Kenya, agency reports said. The plane came down just six minutes after take-off, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members.
The aircraft’s manufacturers, Boeing, said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of all the passengers and crew. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew and stand ready to support Ethiopian Airlines. A Boeing team is prepared to provide technical assistance at request and under the direction of the US National Transportation Safety Board,” the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC cited Boeing as saying in a statement.
Speaking at a press conference in Addis Ababa after visiting the crash site, Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the captain of the crashed plane told air traffic controllers at Bole Airport, Addis Ababa that he was having difficulty and wanted to return, and was given clearance.
He also said that the plane arrived in the morning from South Africa and had more than three hours of ground time. “It arrived with no remark and was dispatched with no remark,” Gebremariam added. The plane crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 60 km south-east of Addis Ababa. An eye witness said the blast and the fire were so strong that they could not get near it. Though fire fighters backed by four helicopters arrived at the scene three hours after the crash, they could not do much as everything was burnt completely.
The office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed its deepest condolences to families of those who lost loved ones in the crash, adding that it was closely following up the situation. James Wainaina Macharia, Kenyan’s Transport Secretary, said support centres have been set up near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.
Ethiopian Airlines has a good safety reputation. The 737 Max-8 aircraft was only launched in 2016 and acquired by Ethiopian Airlines in July 2018. Another plane of the same model was involved in a crash five months ago when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190 people on board.