An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed minutes after taking off on a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi Sunday, killing all 149 passengers and eight crewmembers on board, the airline confirmed. Flight ET 302 took off from Bole International Airport at 8:38 am local time. Air traffic control lost contact with the crew just six minutes later. The airplane crashed near Bishoftu, about 35 miles southeast of Addis Ababa.
During a press conference, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the flight’s captain reported a problem soon after takeoff and had received clearance from ATC to return to Addis Ababa. Gebremariam added that the airline took delivery of the airplane just last November and it had logged just 1,200 flight hours. Prior to the accident flight, the Max 8 had flown from Johannesburg to Addis Ababa Sunday morning without incident.
The pilot in command, who joined Ethiopian in 2010, had flown the 737 since 2017 and collected more than 8,000 flight hours, during which time he registered an “excellent safety record,” said Gebremariam.
The accident comes just four and a half months after another Max 8, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard. Authorities have not drawn any parallels between the two disasters, however, and Gebremariam said the airplane exhibited no technical problems in the four months it had flown for Ethiopian.