By: A. Rabelo
Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 took off from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa at 08:38 local time (05:38 GMT) on 10 March for a two-hour flight to the Kenyan capital Nairobi. The flight was operated by a state-of-the-art Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, a model that had already been involved in a similar crash in Indonesia in late 2018. Six minutes after takeoff, the aircraft crashed 30 miles southeast of the airport, close to the village of Tulu Fara near the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu. There were 149 passengers and 8 crew members onboard the aircraft, none of whom survived. The pilot was named a Senior Captain with Ethiopian Airlines (EA) and had over 8000 hours flying, the captain reported problems and asked to return to Addis Ababa shortly before the crash.
The aircraft involved:
After the crash, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 was grounded by airlines and government aviation agencies around the entire world, due to uncertainties regarding the safety of the aircraft.
What caused the crash?
If confirmed, the preliminary findings would suggest that the automated flight software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) could be to blame for the incident. The MCAS is a software that automatically lowers the nose of the plane when it receives information from its external angle of attack (AOA) sensors that the aircraft is flying too slowly or steeply, and at risk of stalling. The most likely hypothesis regarding what caused this accident was that the MCAS forced the plane's nose down by too much and repeatedly, causing the plane to point downwards and dive into the ground. The investigation as to the reason of the crash is still ongoing and involves the Ethiopian civil aviation authorities and the FAA (The USA’s Federal Aviation Agency).