An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777 freighter sustained significant damage when it caught fire at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Wednesday.
The 777, which carried registration number ET-ARH, caught fire while crews loaded cargo destined to Santiago, Chile. By the time firefighters distinguished the blaze, the widebody’s fuselage had been seriously burned.
In a statement, Ethiopian said the freighter was preparing for a regularly scheduled flight from Shanghai to Sao Paulo. “All ground staff and flying crew are safe,” the airline said.
Ethiopian said it has collaborated with all concerned authorities to contain the fire. “The cause of the fire incident is under investigation by the appropriate authorities,” it added.
A senior official of Ethiopian told AIN that the aircraft was carrying PPEs and merchandise. “The cause of the incident is yet to be established," the official said. "We will cooperate with the Chinese civil aviation accident investigation authorities." Ethiopian Airlines has been transporting PPEs and ventilators from China to Europe, the U.S., and South America since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services operate a cargo fleet of 10 Boeing 777Fs and two 737 freighters. The airline has converted 25 Boeing 787s and Airbus A350 passenger aircraft into cargo haulers to meet the massive freight transport demand created abruptly by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The airline plans to add one new 777F directly from Boeing, three converted 767BCFs, and two converted 737-800BCFs. The airline’s cargo terminal at its Addis Ababa Bole International hub can handle one million tons of cargo per year.