Ethiopian Airlines has resumed the flights with Boeing 737 Max, three years after grounding the plane due to a fatal air crash that killed 157 people. The first flight scheduled to take off to the neighbouring region Kenya flew within Ethiopia due to poor weather. The passengers on the day included diplomats and government officials.
Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebremariam said that the carrier had taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and more than 20 months of rigorous recertification. He said that the airline’s pilots, crew and technicians are confident in the safety of Boeing 737 Max planes.
“We made sure everything is in order, now we are doing…a demo flight, so to speak. It is after this that we are availing it to commercial aviation,” he added.
Countries Resumed Using Boeing 737 Max for Passenger Services
An Ethiopian flight to Nairobi crashed six minutes after take-off from capital city Addis Ababa in March 2019, killing 157 passengers on board, including the crew members. The aircraft’s faulty Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System caused the crash. Boeing spent more than $20 billion and dealt with court cases for recertification with various aviation bodies.
A similar accident occurred in Indonesia five months earlier to the incident in Ethiopia, involving Boeing 737 Max. In both incidents, the aircraft new anti-stall system Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System pushed the planes’ noses down while pilots struggled to regain control.
Two incidents forced aviation regulators worldwide to ground the plane. After recertifications, most countries and airlines have resumed using Boeing 737 Max for passenger services, including the United States, Japan, India, Europe, Indonesia and Australia. Ethiopia is among the last countries to bring the 737 MAX to service. The return of the 737 Max model aircraft was an issue of credibility to the aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
After a relaunch for passenger service, India’s budget airline SpiceJet reported a technical glitch in Boeing 737 Max aircraft mid-air in December 2021. SpiceJet Mumbai-Kolkata flight returned to Mumbai airport within 15 minutes of take-off, citing problems with hydraulics and oil filter bypass. However, no further issues were reported from anywhere with this Boeing plane.