Ethiopian Airlines Jet Crashes After Takeoff from Addis Ababa, Killing 157 People

The second crash of Boeing 737 MAX 8 in six months raises more questions about its safety.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet (Photo credit: Boeing)
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet (Photo credit: Boeing)

On Sunday morning an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 jet bound for Nairobi, Kenya, crashed just six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.

According to Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam, the pilot of flight ET302 had reported technical difficulties soon after departure and had requested permission to turn around and land at Addis Ababa. GebreMariam also noted that the pilot was very experienced and had flown more than 8,000 hours. He had an “excellent flying record,” said GebreMariam, per CNN.

Although it is too soon to determine the cause of the crash, the fact that the Ethiopian jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8 model raised immediate questions. Last October, a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 jet crashed into the Java Sea just 12 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 passengers and crew aboard Lion Air flight 610 were killed.

That crash prompted Boeing and the FAA to issue worldwide bulletins that warned about possible erroneous angle of attack readings on the plane’s cockpit instrument displays. The FAA also recommended modifying the 737 MAX 8’s operating instructions.

However, one aviation expert told CNN that there were “significant differences” between the two incidents and that this crash was likely unrelated to the causes of the Lion Air disaster. “Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of Airline Ratings, told CNN that on the Lion Air flight, there were ‘wild fluctuations in air speed and… we continued to get data from the plane all the way down to impact.’” Sunday’s crash, Thomas explained had “no fluctuations…that transmission ceasing indicates catastrophic failure in air.”

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