10 Facts About The Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash That Has Caused Some Airlines to Ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 Planes

Image: Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock.com (Image is for illustration purpose only)

Yesterday, an unfortunate news filled our newsfeed: five months after the shocking Lion Air plane crash that killed all 189 people on board, another plane has crashed, this time operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

It killed all the 157 people on board.

Here are what you need to know about this latest incident.

What Happened

On Sunday (10 March 2018) morning, in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, a Boeing 737 Max-8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near the town of Bishoftu, which is 62km from Addis Ababa.

It has been confirmed by the airline that there are no survivors, as the plane was shattered into many pieces and severely burnt. On the field that the plane crashed, clothing and personal effects were also found.

How It Happened?

The exact reason hasn’t been determined; in fact, even for the Lion Air crash that happened five months ago, the investigation report would only be expected to be released in August or September this year.

However, it’s revealed that the Ethiopian Airlines plane has taken off at 8:38 a.m., and the pilot, upon taking off, told the control tower that “he had difficulties” and wanted to head back. However, he lost contact with the control tower at 8:44 a.m., which is mere six minutes after take-off.

According to Flightradar24, an internet platform that shows real-time flight information, the plane had “unstable vertical speed after take-off”.


Where It Happened?

Lest you’re not aware, Ethiopia is a country in Africa, with a population of about 102 million.

Image: Roman Yanushevsky / Shutterstock.com

The airplane has taken off in the country’s capital at Addis Ababa from its international airport, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, which has a new terminal in 2003.

Why It Happened?

As mentioned, the reason is still unknown. However, the airline CEO has said that the plane is rather new (only about three months old) and have flew more than 1,200 hours. There was also no recorded technical problem about the plane.

As for the pilot, he was said to have an “excellent” flying record. During the time of flight, the weather conditions were “good”.

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Which would lead to the next point: What’s the plane?

What is the Plane?

Here’s the thing: the previous crash by Lion Air was a Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Image: Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.com

And this latest incident?

It is the exact same plane.

Boeing 737 is a popular plane used by many commercial airlines. According to Aircraft Value News, the Boeing 737 MAX 8, (a variant of the Boeing 737), which replaced an older model called Boeing 737-800, is estimated to cost about USD$54.5 million.

Suffice to say, after the first incident, its safety is being questioned, and now that a second incident occurred in almost the same manner (crashing soon after take-off), more questions are raised.

Boeing has since issued an statement…in a politically correct manner:

Who are the casualties?

The plane has 149 passengers and 8 crew members, and they comprise people from over thirty countries. So far, it has been confirmed that there were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, 8 Italians, 8 Chinese, 8 Americans, 8 Britons, 7 French citizens, 6 Egyptians, 5  Germans, 4 Indians and 4 people from Slovakia.

The family members of a politician, Slovak MP Anton Hrnko, were among the victims. He lost his wife and two children from the plane.

In addition, at least 19 staff members from United Nations affiliated organisations were in the plane.

What is Ethiopian Airlines?

Ethiopian Airlines is, as the name suggests, Ethiopia’s flag carrier and is wholly owned by the country. It was founded in 1945, started operations in 1946 and started international flights from 1951.

Since its inception, it had 67 accidents / incidents (not all are fatal crashes), with its latest crash in 2010, when a Boeing 737-8AS crashed shortly after take-off as well, killing all 90 people on board.

So far, its deadliest accident is this latest one.

Why Does it Sound Familiar?

By now you should know why everyone is comparing it with the Lion Air accident that occurred just five months ago, on 29 October 2018.

Back then, Indonesian airline Lion Air Flight 610 suffered the same fate: the plane, also a Boeing 737 MAX 8, took off at 6:20 a.m. local time, and by 6:33 a.m., which is about 13 minutes later, the aircraft lost contact with air traffic control and by 7:30 a.m., it was reported that the plane had crashed off the coast of the island of Java.

According to eyewitnesses, the plane crashed with a “steep nose-down angle”.

What’s Next?

While questions about the plane’s safety were raised, China took it up a notch: They ordered all Chinese airlines with Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts to be suspended.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said, “Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity.”

In addition, Cayman Airlines has also grounded their two new Boeing 737 MAX 8.

In Singapore, SilkAir, which operates the Boeing 737 MAX, is monitoring the situation but has yet to ground any planes.

How Safe Are Planes?

If these incidents have instilled a fear of flying for you, do not worry: planes are still the safest mode of transport based on statistics.

According to statistics, between all modes of transport including cars and train, the fatality rate for travel via planes is the lowest.

For example, in the US, for every billion miles travelled by a passenger via train, about one person died, whereas for every billion miles travelled by a passenger via a plane, it’s at 0.07 person.