Ethiopian crash hub: Normalcy at Addis airport plus latest updates

Ethiopian crash hub: Normalcy at Addis airport plus latest updates


The March 10 crash

On March 10, the world was hit by the news that a passenger aircraft operated by Africa’s top national carrier had crashed. The reference point for the information was solely the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

It remained the most quoted source for hours before the flier, Ethiopian Airlines, confirmed with further details of the said incident.

The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.

— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 10 2019

The focus of this article is to put as much information as possible on the crash, straddling the before, during and aftermath of what is one of the deadliest incidents Ethiopian has faced in recent years.

You can read about the following areas below:

  • Airline CEO visits Bole International Airport
  • Boeing team on ground in Addis Ababa
  • Ethiopia appreciates global solidarity
  • Black box retrieved from crash site
  • PHOTOS: Search and rescue mission on site
  • Who are the victims?
  • Strong defense for Ethiopian’s safety record
  • The Boeing 737 MAX8 – multi-pronged pressure
  • PHOTOS: Memorial service in Addis Ababa
  • Previous accidents by Ethiopian Airline
  • The quality of information flow: govt and airline
  • African, world leaders send condolences
  • The departure and destination of ET302
  • How long did the flight last, casualty list
  • POEM: Travel gathered 157, death swooped
  • About Ethiopian – Africa’s aviation leader

Boeing team joins investigators

CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, paid a visit to the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. Operations were continuing as normal with workers and passengers going through their usual routines.

Gebremariam was very much in the forefront of events on March 10 when the incident occured.

Visiting the accident site and later giving a press conference to update the general public on the extent of the accident at the time.

One photo that became defining during his visit showed him holding a part of the crashed plane at the site. It was Bulletin No. 2 in which the airline confirmed that all aboard the ET 320 had perished.

Africa’s biggest hub Addis Ababa Bole international airport is as busy as always availing our customers of the standard service. Ethiopian airline’s GCO Mr.Tewolde Gebremariam has visited the terminals and witnessed the smooth operations.— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 12 2019.

Boeing team joins investigators

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the plane crash in Bishoftu on Sunday, there are local and international experts involved in the process, reports have suggested.

Aircraft manufacturing company Boeing, announced a technical team which has since arrived on site of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 people to provide technical assistance.

Ethiopia appreciates global solidarity

The Prime Minister’s office on Monday sent out one message on social media in relation to the incident of 24-hours prior.

And it was a message of appreciation for the global solidarity that Ethiopia – government and airline got. Most of the messages of support were posted on Twitter aside the likely flooding in of diplomatic cables.

The PM’s message read: “On behalf of the FDRE Government, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expresses his gratitude to world leaders and the international community for their messages of condolence and support in our time of mourning all the precious lives we lost aboard ET 302.”

Black box retrieved from crash site

A key technical part of the plane, the black box, was retrieved by a search and rescue team that was dispatched to the site hours after the incident.

What is the black box or flight recorder? It is basically an equipment that records information about the performance of an aircraft during flight.

It is usually a very key component to getting to know the likely cause of the accident. Ethiopian confirmed that both parts had been retrieved: “The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of ET302 have been Recovered.”

Accident Bulletin no. 6 
Issued on March 11, 2019 at 01:40 PM Local Time
The Digital Flight Data Recorder(DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder(CVR) of ET302 have been Recovered.— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 11, 2019.

PHOTOS: Search and rescue mission on site

There is a coordinated local and international response on the ground to help uncover the mystery that led to 157 lives perishing in a swoop.

The Airline and other responsible state outfits like the Federal Police and Transport Bureaus have been joined by experts from across the world, from the Kenya, South Africa, United States, Israel and INTERPOL among others. Manufacturer Boeing also is an integral part of the team.

Who are the victims?

A key plank of reportage on accidents in recent times is a focus on the victims, even perpetrators.

Social media in part did a great job of helping get profiles of victims a announcements were routinely made by families or employers.

Some governments also named their nationals via social media as was the case with Russia, Nigeria.

Strong defence for Ethiopian’s safety record

The accident thrust the issue of flight safety to the fore. The figures show that the carrier had an impeccable safety record with industry players and people on social media mounting a robust defence.

One of the earliest to give Ethiopian a pass mark was Alex Macheras, who has since Saturday been busy giving perspectives to multiple media outlets regarding the ET302.

Here were his initial comments very early on:

Claiming FlyEthiopian is an airline with a “poor safety record” because of hijacking attempts over last 20 years is irresponsible.

By that logic, American Airlines, United & Air France are also airlines with, quote “poor safety records”.

The Boeing 737 MAX8 – multi-pronged pressure

Boeing and maybe insurers of Ethiopian will be one of the most concerned entities in these times. The manufacturer has been under serial pressure in the wake of the crash.

Its shares have plummeted but more worrying is the impact on continued usage of the particular jets. Close to a dozen carriers – Ethiopian being the first – have grounded all their 737 Max8 jets.

It turns out that it is the second deadly crash involving the same make of plane in five months. The first was when a Lion Air flight also crashed and claimed lives in October 2018.

Previous fatal accidents by Ethiopian Airline

In 2010, its passenger jet crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after taking off from Beirut. 90 people were lost in the incident.

In 1996, 123 out of 175 persons on board a flight were killed after its plane was hijacked. One of the engines stopped when the flight run out of fuel.

An attempt at emergency water landing led the plane to hit a coral reef resulting in the losses.

Back in 1988, a departing plane struck a flock of pigeons and crash-landed as it returned towards the airport. 31 lives were lost.

In effect the March 10 accident becomes the worst in the company’s 74-years of operation. It was founded by Emperor Haile Selassie and is one of the crown jewels of the economy.

PHOTOS: Memorial service in Addis Ababa

The Ethiopian government declared a day of mourning on Monday, it was observed with flag flying at half-mast.

Solemn and sombre moods were also captured in Addis Ababa where friends, family and acquaintances even strangers gathered to observe a memorial.

Tears, emotions and shared grief enveloped the venue. Same was the case over in Nairobi at the opening of the UN conference as a minute silence was observed in memory of the departed.

The quality of information flow: govt and airline

Social media proved decisive in the wake of the Ethiopian Airline crash of March 10, 2019; as government through the Prime Minister’s office and the airline coordinated official response with disarming effect.

By close of day, the two entities had issued just about a dozen messages on Twitter but the content these messages carried were enough to fully inform of and assure of appropriate measures going forward.

The PM’s office issued three tweets in all against the Airline’s seven yet the media had seemingly been given enough on the incident by close of day March 10.

African, world leaders send condolences

On Sunday, March 10, 2019; African leaders united – this time not with the usual words of electoral congratulations or condemnation of terrorism but more over words of commiseration and brotherly support in a hard time.

This was after the Addis Ababa – Nairobi flight crashed in the early hours of Sunday morning. The incident had become the biggest global news item of the day – by a stretch.

The death toll had Kenya topping as the most affected nation with 32 citizens overall. Other African nations lost citizens as did the United States, Canada, Slovakia etc.

Here are tweets from some African and world leaders:

I am profoundly saddened by the news of the crash involving flyethiopian, one of the world's most successful and efficient Airlines. On behalf of the Govt & people of Nigeria, I extend sincere condolences to PM Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, and to all the countries that lost citizens.— Muhammadu Buhari (MBuhari).

Our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives on the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. We stand with Prime Minister Abiy and the people of Ethiopia. Our thoughts are with you.— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame).

I have, with sadness, received news about the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight which was destined for Nairobi from Addis Ababa. On Uganda’s behalf, I send heartfelt prayers and condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni).

Président Hage G. Geingob extends condolences to the people of Ethiopia, family and friends of the victims, after the fatal crash of flight ET 302 en route to Nairobi.— Presidency | Republic of Namibia (@NamPresidency).

I send my condolences and prayers to all the families of those who lost their lives today on the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi. Our thoughts and strength go out to our African brothers and sisters and all those affected by this terrible tragedy— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa).

The departure point and destination of ET302

The basic facts are as follows: The flight had left the Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa. It was heading for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Why Addis Ababa and Nairobi: In the wake of Ethiopians rise and rise as Africa’s biggest carrier, the Bole International Airport plays a crucial role as hub from where most Ethiopia flights connect with the world.

Nairobi on the other hand hosts the United Nation’s biggest office in Africa. It is also a big conference destination and was billed to host the UN environment confab.

How long did the flight last, where did it crash and casualty list

It crashed only six minutes after take-off in the town of Bishoftu in Oromia region. Hours on, it was confirmed that all passengers (149) and crew (8) were killed in the incident.

A melange of passengers were aboard the flight – from humanitarian workers to professionals on their way to a United Nations Environment summit holding in Nairobi.

Since then the following issues have come up: identification and naming of victims, plane manufacturer Boeing under multi-pronged pressure, the world continues to solidarize with Ethiopia and all affected.

POEM: Travel gathered 157 lives, death swooped

Plans, dreams, aspirations, hopes and emotions plunged in Ethiopia
Over 30 nationalities united in a passenger flight hoping to reach
But reach they did not when the flight returned and “buried” them
The grief that tears through the world sears the hearts of millions
Despite loss of 157, it’s clear millions are hit – directly, indirectly
The ultimate leveller in all of this is the non-discriminator – death 
The plane had arrived from South Africa and was passed fit to go
It won’t make it to Nairobi, the next stop, and none aboard made it
It crashed six-minutes after take-off, try as pilot did to return to base
In town of Bishoftu, Oromia region – Ethiopia’s biggest, most populous

Not the white or black
Not the rich or poor
Not the adult or child
Not the educated or illiterate
Not the tourist or official
Not the young or old
Not the father or child
Not the pilot or the passenger
Not the Muslim or Christian
Not the believer of atheist 
Not the first or last to board
Not the first-timer of frequent flier
Not the economy or business class
Not the ordinary or the UN passport holder

The plane was evaluated and passed – it fell
The pilot attempted to return – it wasn’t to be
The people’d wished they weren’t aboard – they were
Some’d prayed for a safe flight – but death came
The safety procedures were given – didn’t count
Some’d been wished safe flight – didn’t happen
Travel gathered them in one place – death swooped
The passengers, plane, belongings – all gone 
Captain with 8000 hours flying time – does death care?
The friends, family, Africa and the world – mourns
Same day other Ethiopian flights safely landed – fact
This day people will reconsider Ethiopian – human nature
Others will not blink and get aboard – accidents happen
May the “lessons” of March 10 save lives – legacy

About Ethiopian – Africa’s aviation leader

The airline currently flies to over 50 African cities in what is the largest network by a national carrier. It is also in talks to help about a dozen African countries to establish and manage their carriers.

Ethiopian – a member of the Star Alliance group in its seven decades of operation has become one of the continent’s leading carriers in terms of efficiency and operational success.

They command the lion’s share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to 95 international destinations across five continents.

It is the first African operator to take delivery of the Boeing 787-9 dreamliner. Its operations have transformed the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa into a continental hub.


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