Thoughts On Today’s Ethiopian Flight 302 Tragedy

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Tragedy struck this morning when a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 flying as Ethiopian flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 souls onboard. 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, 8 Americans, 2 Israelis, and many more lost their lives.

Ethiopian flies the most modern fleet of any African airline and is a member of the Star Alliance. However it’s not a promising start for the 737 MAX 8. Less than 5 months ago Indonesian carrier Lion Air also suffered the loss of a 737 MAX 8 shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 onboard that flight. Lion Air claims that Boeing failed to inform them of the new plane’s stall-prevention system, which triggered a response based on a faulty sensor that caused the plane to crash shortly after takeoff. The pilots weren’t instructed on how to disengage the system, which kept forcing the nose down when the pilots were trying to keep it up. The NY Times has an article going into more detail of what went wrong in that crash.

Of course we won’t know the reason for this crash immediately, but hopefully Boeing can properly instruct pilots how to disable any new safety systems put into the plane when necessary and reassure the public that the 737 MAX airplanes are safe to fly.

This particular airplane, ET-AVJ, was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November 2018. Readers of this blog are often interested in Tel Aviv news and many may have used United miles to fly to Tel Aviv on Ethiopian via Addis Ababa. ET-AVJ has typically operated routes to Tel Aviv, Nairobi, and Johannesburg. This aircraft has operated flights to or from Tel Aviv 32 times in 2019 including 6 trips last week, with the most recent being from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, March 6th and back from Tel Aviv to Addis Ababa on Thursday, March 7th.

In the US, American flies the 737 MAX 8. Flyers in the know have avoided that plane not for safety, but for comfort issues as they equipped with some of the most uncomfortable slimline narrow economy class seats in the sky with poor legroom and a bathroom that is too small for some people to even fit into. Southwest also flies the MAX 8, though their seats have several inches more legroom than American’s. United flies the 737 MAX 9, also with more legroom than American in Economy, Economy Plus, and in First.

Will you avoid flying on 737 MAX aircraft or will you wait for the results of the investigation to come out?

Our hearts and prayers are with the passengers and families of Ethiopian flight 302. RIP.

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70 Comments On "Thoughts On Today’s Ethiopian Flight 302 Tragedy"

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myi

Sad news.
Crashed mid air or on the ground?

Zac

mid air… not too long after takeoff

Yechiel Z

I fly a 737-900ER all the time. Haven’t seen the 737-Max yet, have always wanted to experience, though now a bit afraid

Excited for the A220 which is supposed to be amazing.

reb yid

“have always wanted to experience”
doesn’t exactly sound like a posh experience

Ari

Airlines switch out equipment all the time so avoiding a particular model is not always possible anyway. The investigation for this crash will show whether this was a problem with the plane, pilots or something else. But I’m sure Boeing stock is not going to do well for the next several days.

Dave

Boeing stock took a serious dip in the days following the Lion Air crash. Subsequently it continued soaring to the highs we’re seeing now (um, likely UNTIL tomorrow AM).

This accident seems VERY concerning to me. One is bad enough but some were quick to drop the blame on inexperienced pilots from Lion Air given their poor standing in the industry. Ethiopian is the largest African airline. This second accident is thus very concerning.

s goldberg

Now the second time .Stock will have big problems .

Isaac

Wouldnt now be a perfect time to buy. Lets me honest, boing isnt going out of buisness anytime soon. Therefore the stock will recover to its true value (and those that buy the dip will profit). Of course there is the possibility of law suits which can keep the value down, but by how much? (Im actually asking, I dont know these things)

Dave

Yes Isaac. Now can be a great opportunity to buy. All you have to do is look back – right after the Lion Air crash a few months ago, the stock dropped some 12% or more as well but then rebounded and kept shooting up even more to the recent levels of the mid 400 range. This stock has tripled in value in the past few years. Companies of such size generally have reserves and contingencies for exactly such scenarios. There’s insurance as well…. I think it’s worth keeping a close eye on in the near term future. They also found the black boxes, which should shed light on what exactly happened and if it’s the same issue as the last crash.

Chaim

Just flew on one of those planes with the tiny restrooms on AA. How can I know if it will be one of these planes. When looking at AA while booking all it’s says is 738-Boeing 737

Sam

I take lots of risks and do fly a lot but I will not fly the 737 Max 8 until the investigation is finalized.

JD

FYI, you take a lot more risk riding a car!!

Dave

Ordinarily you are right; flying is less risky than driving. But when there clearly seems to be a serious issue with this plane, the risks are GREATLY magnified.

Shea

I have flown several times on the 737 MAX 8, i never had a crash yet…

A

Al tiftach peh…

Yoli

Will the airline switch my flight? I am flying in one of these in April. Thanks

AK770

Would Boeing really install a new system on a plane that costs 10s of millions of dollars and FAIL to tell the purchasers about it?

Tony

I see some airlines are already not taking chances. Family members flight on LOT supermax was cancelled this morning and they were rerouted on another airline. I suspect it was bcs the second leg was meant to be on one of their max8’s

Fresser

No, LOT is having many issues with their 787s and are constantly cancelling flights out of WAW and BUD with this aircraft. My 2 most recent LOT flights were operated on behalf of LOT by EuroAtlantic Airways, and more recently Air Italy (formerly Meridiana)

Tony

Point taken But I see China’s Aviation authority just grounded all max8 planes…so not such a stretch.

chff

https://twitter.com/AeronewsRO/status/1105116526837936128
LOT statement re: #737MAX flights: “Our 737 MAX 8s are fully operational, they meet all safety requirements. We are in constant contact with the aviation agencies responsible for security. None of them issued recommendations regarding these aircraft”, stated @kubicki_adrian

Yoel

Both of those crashes were third world airlines – they have a tendency to like local pilots and local (or at least cheap) maintenance facilities. Boeing has no control over those and it is likely that both were substandard. Even if they are certified, there may be lesser trained people working on the planes. The 737 is the world’s most used plane, and safe everywhere. Fly a major US airline and that problem is avoided.

BC

Sorry, yoel, you are so wrong.
Where should I start.
Ethiopian Airlines is a major, well respected airline. They are a member of *Alliance which is very selective. While you might have thought differently, the airline, pilots and maintenance are top notch. In reality, most major airlines do their maintenance by the book and also do the bare minimum that is required.

joe

Exactly DO NOT FLY THIS DEATH TRAP

Yoel

All the pilots needed to do in Indonesia, was to disengage the auto-trim : flip a switch.

They didn’t know it was the auto-trim they were fighting. This crew should have been aware of it by now because of the Indonesia crash.

The 737 has three independent airspeed sensors and alarms when they are not in agreement. A well trained crew should diagnose that is the problem early in the event and disable the auto-trim.

cec

The co-pilot on the plane only had 200 hours of flying time. While what your saying may be ethipians reputation, its clearly not the reality in some regards

joe

Wrong wrong wrong

Yoel

Pilots needs to be trained in basic airmanship so they can FLY THE AIRPLANE in any circumstance.The landing on the Hudson was no miracle. Sully instantly reverted to his extensive experience flying gliders and other basic aircraft. Modern pilots seem to be trained to be button pushers who never look out the window.

BC

This was not just the need to use basic flying. This necessitated the need to know and flip a breaker to shut down a system that was fighting to crash the plane. Easy to discuss, much harder to do while flying the plane. Should have been practiced hundred times by any pilot on a Max.

jb

Baruch Hashem!

Y F

What’s up with all those negative plane news recently?… There was also the other day a Turkish flight to JFK that 30 people got injured from severe turbulence. A lot of people flying from Israel take that flight.

J

Pilots should be able to override any system. It seems that these new max planes can override the pilot. Guess they were trying slowly to prove they don’t need 2 pilots etc. Bad move.
https://www.fliegerfaust.com/aviation-news-boeing–2631257248.html
and also not having an aircraft that overrides pilot operation.

Marc

I wonder if airlines start to ground the Max? If there’s another crash I feel like the FAA would ground them all.

Marc

I wonder if Southwest’s mechanic’s union is petty enough to let on of these go down as a bargaining chip?

s goldberg

Problem is these planes are made to override pilot .Should be the Reverse .

Bob

No one is suggesting that the North Koreans have figured out a way to hack the software.

So that’s probably what happened . . .

Bob

It’s not just American. United has taken delivery of 12 of them, with another 136 on order.

Annette Fox

I will avoid flying that aircraft

Jack out of the Box

It could be I saw that plane a week or 2 ago. I happened to take note of an Ethiopian airplane taking off as I drove past Ben Gurion airport.

Dan, with regards to your question at the end of the post, do you think that the majority of airline passengers have any idea what model airplane they flew on? And of those that do take note, how many pay attention in advance to the model they will be flying on? On how many choose flights based on which aircraft? I’m sure some very frequent flyers pay attention when booking but I’m quite sure it’s a very small percentage of passengers overall.

Yonoson

They are now grounding all 737 Max.

Eran

How can you find out which plane you are flying?

Rabbi

helpful article – thank Dan HaLevi

Yonoson

So American and Southwest are not grounding… Bet there’s a lot of unhappy people. What a PR blunder..

SMA

The past few years we meet our son, his wife and young family who live in Israel; we meet in Johannesburg at my In-Laws for Pessach. My kids and grandkids fly from Israel to Addis Abba and then to Jo-Burg on this plane. As long as another brand new 737 Mach 8 is not flying, they will come.

May the souls who came to their untimely deaths now be at peace.

SM
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