WINDHOEK – The global airline industry is reeling in shock following the tragic accident in which the Boeing 737 800 Max from Africa’s biggest and most successful airline, Ethiopian Airlines, crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday morning. By yesterday, the airline confirmed that after a tedious search by the rescue and investigation team, the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of the deadly flight have been recovered. It is assumed that these devices will shed more light on the cause of the lethal accident.
The Ethiopian Airlines Group, as well as several other global airlines including China and Indonesia, have grounded the commercial operations of all Boeing 737 800 Max aircraft immediately after the tragic accident. Sunday’s accident is the second in five months involving the same type of aircraft. The Boeing aircraft is relatively new to the skies, having only been in commercial use since 2017.
According to BBC News, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Kumming Airlines, and China Southern Airlines are among the carriers who grounded the specific Boeing models. More than 90 Boeing 737 Max 8 models are said to be in use in mainland China.
Also, the Indonesian Transport Ministry said inspections would begin this week of one Garuda Indonesia plane and 10 operated by Lion Air and confirmed that all planes would be grounded until cleared by safety regulator. Shares in French aerospace group Safran, which makes the engines for the 737, fell yesterday.
“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution,” read a statement from Ethiopian Airlines. The airlines also announced that its Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, had immediately travelled to the scene of the crash.
“It is too early to speculate the cause of the accident and further investigation will be carried out to find out the cause of the accident in collaboration with all stakeholders including the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and other international entities to maintain the international standard and information will be provided once the cause is identified,” said Gebremariam.
Ethiopian Airlines revealed that a senior captain named Yared Getachew, with more than 8000 hours of cumulative flight time and with a commendable performance, was commanding the flight along with first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur who had about 200 flight hours. The airline also confirmed that 149 passengers and 8 crew members, from 35 nationalities, were on board the flight. The crashed Boeing flew back to Addis Ababa from Johannesburg on Sunday morning where it was scheduled to fly to Nairobi, Kenya. According to the airline, the specific aircraft underwent rigorous first check maintenance on February 04, this year.
Responding to questions from New Era, Air Namibia’s spokesperson, Paul Nakawa, said the accident was heart breaking and that all Air Namibia staff are in shock and deeply saddened by the incident. Confirming that Air Namibia has no Boeing aircraft in its fleet, Nakawa notes that Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s most reputable and largest carrier with a lot to learn from.
“At this darkest time in their operations, we express our deepest heartfelt condolences and solidarity to them, and through them, our thoughts are with families of all victims of this tragic incident. Safety of crew and passengers is priority in this industry, therefore it is always a terrible blow when an incident of this nature happens – thus words fail us. To our Ethiopian Airlines counterparts, we hope you continue to show unfailing professional attitude and compassion to the loved ones of the victims during this difficult period,” Nakawa remarked.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents the vast majority of the world’s airlines, said it was deeply saddened to hear about the accident involving Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302.
“Our heartfelt sorrow goes to all those affected. The industry’s thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones. Every accident is one too many. The greatest respect that we can pay to the memory of those involved is to leave nothing unturned in our quest to understand the cause and to take steps to ensure that it is not repeated,” read a statement from IATA.