Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 crashed shortly after takeoff near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 11, 2019 killing all 157 people on board. Citizens of 35 countries were onboard including 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians and eight passengers each from China, Italy and the United States.
None of the bodies have yet been identified due to the impact that the Boeing aircraft had when crashing shortly after takeoff, yet some family members have been given one-kilogram bags of soil from the crash site to remember their loved ones. Empty coffins representing the Ethiopian victims of the plane crash have been buried in the capital, Addis Ababa. According to Ethiopia’s Transport Minister, Dagmawit Moges, identifying the bodies of the crash victims could take up to six months’ time.
Forensic teams have been manually analyzing the crash site carefully with the site being very complex and time-consuming due to the debris being in hundreds of small pieces. Multiple teams have come to aid in the investigation with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board set to arrive this week as well. The black boxes that were recovered from the site were sent to Paris, France for the French aviation to analyze due to Ethiopia not having the technology to do so. According to air traffic controllers, three minutes after takeoff the pilot made a distress call asking to land and reported flight control problems immediately after takeoff as well.
Australia and Singapore among many other countries suspended the use of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft immediately after the accident. The United States was one of the last countries to ban flights using the Boeing 737 aircrafts upon the Federal Aviation Administrations’s emergency order and immediate investigation into the US approval process for the 737 Max and their relationship with Boeing. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes this past Wednesday, March 13, with their emergency order stating, “new information from the wreckage concerning the aircraft’s configuration just after takeoff that, taken together with newly refined data from satellite-based tracking of the aircraft’s flight path, indicates some similarities with the Lion Air crash.”
Further investigation is going to focus on the similarities between Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 and the Lion Air crash that occurred this past October in Indonesia that lost all 189 passengers when crashing in the Java Sea. Currently the flight track between the two aircrafts have been identified to be similar as well as the setting of the Boeing 737 Max’s jackscrew that raises or lowers the nose of the plane, it being found that it was set to “dive” in both accidents. Boeing has been extremely supportive since the accident and has recommended to the FAA to temporarily suspend all global operations of its 371 Max aircraft. “Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes, and it always will be,” says Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg when speaking about the accident. Ethiopian officials partnered with the US, and many other countries hope to continue their investigations until all bodies are identified and the cause is determined with new information found each day.