A horror crash that killed all 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight that had just left the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa has raised safety concerns over the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 model.
The flight left the city at about 8.38am local time and climbed to 2600m. However, just six minutes later, take-off contact with the aircraft was lost and the plane plunged to the ground killing everyone on board.
The tragedy mirrors another crash late last year involving the same Boeing model with a Lion Air plane plunging to the ground shortly after leaving Jakarta killing all 189 people on board.
Air Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most successful airlines and has a good safety record, with the pilot of flight ET 302 having more than 8000 hours of experience.
“It is a brand-new aeroplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time,” said the airline’s CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam.
While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, experts have weighed in saying the Boeing model should be grounded until any potential design flaw is isolated and dealt with.
Flight radar data for the doomed Boeing 737 MAX 8 service showed its vertical speed was unstable after take-off.
“It’s highly suspicious,” Mary Schiavo, an aviation analyst and the former inspector general of the US Transportation Department, told CNN.
“Here we have a brand-new aircraft that’s gone down twice in a year. That rings alarm bells in the aviation industry because that just doesn’t happen.”