Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashes shortly after takeoff

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 of Ethiopian Airlines, with different registration than the crashed aircraft. Photo: © Boeing

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi has crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital. The flight was operated by a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, registered as ET-AVJ.

The Ethiopian flag-carrier said in a statement that 149 passengers and eight crew members from 35 different nationalities, most notably Kenya and Canada, were on board the flight. A spokesperson said that everyone on board was killed in the accident.

Ethiopia’s Accident Investigations Bureau, with assistance from the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have opened an investigation into the accident. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has confirmed that it will provide technical assistance in the case. Both flight recorders of the aircraft, which contain crucial data for finding the cause of the accident, were recovered on Monday, March 11th.

The carrier took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 in July 2018. The aircraft involved performed its first flight in October 2018 and was delivered to the airline in November last year.

Ethiopian Airlines was founded in 1945 and is fully owned by the government of Ethiopia. Since 2011, the airline is a member of the Star Alliance. Ethiopian Airlines was one of the first operators of the long haul airplanes Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350XWB. Furthermore, the long haul fleet consists of Boeing 767 and 777 jets. Short haul flights are operated by a fleet of Boeing 737 and smaller Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft.

This is the second fatal accident of a Boeing 737 MAX, an aircraft type which entered service less than two years ago. In October 2018, Lion Air flight JT610 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta Airport in Indonesia.

In response to the crash, China and Indonesia have temporarily grounded the 737 MAX aircraft type. Cayman Airways has also announced a temporary suspension of its 737 MAX operations. On the African continent, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Comair (South African British Airways affiliate) have all grounded the aircraft type until more information on what caused the crash is available.

Read more: Several countries and airlines have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX following this crash