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.