▪Four-month-old jet came down minutes after leaving Addis Ababa
▪Accident is the second in five months involving upgraded model
A Boeing Co. 737 Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff, claiming 157 lives and marking the second deadly accident in five months for the new version of the company’s best-selling jet.
Flight ET302 went down just minutes after leaving Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya, Africa’s biggest airline said Sunday. Boeing said it was closely monitoring the situation involving the Max 8 aircraft, which was delivered new to the carrier in November.
The crash will stoke concerns about the safety of the 737 Max, the upgraded model of the popular narrow-body. A Lion Air plane of the same type plunged into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29, killing 189 passengers and crew, with preliminary findings indicating its pilots had been unable to regain control following an equipment malfunction.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane left Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. local time on Sunday, and contact was lost six minutes later, the company said in a statement.
A spokesman for the carrier later said by telephone that there were no survivors among the plane’s 149 passengers and eight crew. The carrier said it was still confirming details of the passenger list for the flight.
The aircraft bore the registration ET-AVJ, indicating that it was delivered new on Nov. 15, according to Flight Global’s Cirium database. The plane was powered by two Leap-1B engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA.
Accident Bulletin no. 1
Issued on march 10, 2019 at 11:00am
Ethiopian Airlines will release further information as soon as it is available. Updated information will also be on Ethiopian Airlines website at ww.ethiopianairlines.com
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While Africa has a generally poor aviation safety record compared with global norms, Ethiopian Air, the continent’s only consistently profitable carrier, is known for operating a modern fleet that features Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the latest Airbus SE A350, as well as the 737 Max.
The new Boeing single-aisle model, a re-engined version of a design that has formed the backbone of global fleets for five decades, has been in service only since May 2017.
Data from the Lion Air jet’s flight recorder showed that an errant sensor had signaled that the plane was in danger of stalling, causing a safety feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System to intervene.
The pilots counteracted it repeatedly by flipping a switch to raise the nose, but the cycle repeated itself more than two dozen times before the plane entered its final dive.
There’s no evidence right now to link that disaster with this weekend’s tragedy.
The Ethiopian government “would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said in the Twitter post.