A new Boeing 737 of Ethiopian Airlines that was bound for Nairobi crashed shortly after it took off on Sunday morning, killing all of the 149 passengers and eight crew members who were on board. It was the second fatal crash of the new and popular Boeing jet in a period of less than five months.
Flight 302 left Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, at 8:38 a.m. local time. The airline said that it lost contact six minutes later.
The passengers aboard the plane were from all over the world. In a news conference, Tewolde GebreMariam, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said that it included eight citizens from the United States, eight from Italy, eight from China, seven each from France and the United Kingdom, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, and 32 Kenyans.
GebreMariam said that the plane had arrived from Johannesburg on Sunday morning. He said that the state-owned airline took delivery of the plane from Boeing last November 2018.
The captain of the plane has been flying for the airline ever since 2010. GebreMariam said that he is a “senior pilot” with over 8,000 flight hours and an “excellent record.”
This is the second fatal crash of the top selling and new jet Boeing 737 MAX 8 since October, when the Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after its takeoff from Jakarta, killing all of the 189 passengers on board. Flightradar24, a flight-tracking site, said that data “show that vertical speed was unstable after take off.”
While the cause of the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet is still unknown, it is likely to ramp up the scrutiny of Boeing and the popular plane.
In a statement, the airline stated: “Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane.”
It added: “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.”
The Chicago-based aerospace giant said that it has a team set to provide technical assistant at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States.
A spokesperson for the agency said that the NTSB is sending a team of four officials to the crash site.