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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

Ethiopian Airlines crash latest: UN mourns as airlines ground Boeing 737 Max 8 fleets

All 157 people from 35 nationalities on board flight ET302 died when it crashed on Sunday

Ethiopian police standing near wreckage from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, which crashed south-east of Addis Ababa. Reuters
Ethiopian police standing near wreckage from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, which crashed south-east of Addis Ababa. Reuters

As Ethiopia began a day of mourning for the 157 people killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, airlines were re-evaluating the safety of the aircraft model used in the incident.

Many of those on board ET302 were to attend a UN conference on the environment in Nairobi. The UN said at least 19 of its staff were killed in the crash. A moment of silence was held at the opening of the UN Environment Assembly.

Ethiopian Airlines said it is grounding its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8s and China has banned all use of the aircraft.

Flight ET302 lost contact with air traffic control six minutes after it took off from Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport. It was due to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, but only made it 62 kilometres south-east of Ethiopia's capital.

The plane crashed into a vast plain of Ethiopian countryside, leaving a huge divot in the earth, but no significant parts of the aircraft's body.

Debris, personal possessions and earth were spread across the crash site as investigators sifted through the wreckage. On Monday, two flight recorders were recovered, holding digital data and voice recordings from the aircraft's final moments.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a joint investigation with Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia's Civil Aviation Authority and Boeing into the crash.

Airlines worldwide re-evaluate use of Boeing 737 Max 8s

Ethiopia Airlines said it is grounding its fleet of the aircraft until further notice. "We don't yet know the cause of the accident; we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution," the airline said.

It ordered 20 of the planes for $2.1 billion (Dh7.71bn).

Sunday's incident hit Boeing's stock price, sending it down as much as 8.7 per cent in Stuttgart and threatening to significantly hit the Dow Jones Industrial Average when trading begins in New York.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 is the company's fastest-selling aircraft, flown by more than 60 airlines around the world. There 350 aircraft in operation and hundreds more are on order.

China told all of its domestic carriers not to use the aircraft, drawing a parallel to the Lion Air crash in October, which also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8.

"Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity," China's aviation authority said.

China has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after the crash in Ethiopia. AP
China has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after the crash in Ethiopia. AP

Boeing delivered 76 models to Chinese airlines and a further 104 are on order.

Mongolia's Civil Aviation Authority also told its national air carrier MIAT to suspend use of the planes.

A FlyDubai spokeswoman said the company remained confident in the airworthiness of its fleet but was in touch with Boeing. The low-cost UAE carrier ordered 76 of the aircraft in 2013 and received its first delivery in August 2017.

Cayman Airways, the flag-carrier airline of the Cayman Islands, said it is suspending operations of both its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from March 11 “until more information is received”.

Indonesia's transportation safety committee said it would ground its fleet of planes for inspections.

In India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and the country’s regulators have asked Boeing for information following the Ethiopia crash.

Dubai resident narrowly misses ill-fated flight

Headed home to his family in Kenya, Dubai resident Ahmed Khalid would have been on board the fateful Ethiopian Airlines flight had the first leg of his journey not been delayed.

Flying to Nairobi from Dubai, Ahmed was changing planes in Addis Ababa but he arrived too late to make his planned connection. The unexpected delay saved his life.

Ahmed’s father was waiting at Nairobi, unaware that his son had missed the ill-fated flight.

"I arrived here [at Nairobi] shortly after 10am and as I waited, a security person approached me and asked me: 'Which flight are you waiting for?',” Khalid Ali Abdulrahman said.

“I answered him quickly because I wanted him to direct me to the arrivals, so I told him Ethiopia, and then he said: 'Sorry, that one has crashed'.”

Mr Ali Abdulrahman said he feared the worst.

"I was shocked, but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight; he is waiting for the second one which has been delayed," he said.

The victims of the ET302 crash

Many of the victims were doctors, aid workers and officials from the UN. Eight crew and 149 passengers from 35 different countries died in the crash.

The UN said that 19 members of its staff were killed.

The World Food Programme lost seven staff members, and the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees and the International Telecommunications Union who both lost two.

The UN flag was flown at half-staff at the UN Environment Assembly, and around the world on Monday.

People hold a moment of silence for the victims, including 19 UN workers, of the Ethiopia Airlines crash before the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. AFP
People hold a moment of silence for the victims, including 19 UN workers, of the Ethiopia Airlines crash before the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. AFP

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Organisation for Migration in Sudan, the World Bank, and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia all lost a member of staff.

Other victims of the crash included the chief executive of a Kenyan hotel group, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, and the wife, daughter and son of a Slovakian MP.

The nationalities affected were:

  • Kenya (32)
  • Canadian (18)
  • Ethiopian (9)
  • Chinese (8)
  • Italian (8)
  • American (8)
  • French (7)
  • British (7)
  • Egyptian (6)
  • German (5)
  • Indian (4)
  • Slovakian (4)
  • Austrian (3)
  • Russian (3)
  • Swedish (3)
  • Spanish (2)
  • Israeli (2)
  • Moroccan (2)
  • Polish (2)
  • Belgian (1)
  • Djibouti (1)
  • Indonesian (1)
  • Irish (1)
  • Mozambique (1)
  • Norwegian (1)
  • Rwandan (1)
  • Saudi (1)
  • Sudanese (1)
  • Somalian (1)
  • Serbian (1)
  • Togolese (1)
  • Ugandan (1)
  • Yemeni (1)
  • Nepalese (1)
  • Nigerian (1)
  • UN passport (1)

Updated: March 13, 2019 02:56 PM

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