Plans underway for Kenyan families to fly to Addis after ET302 crash

March 12, 2019 12:36 pm
Ethiopian Airlines says it will work with Boeing, authorities and international experts to investigate the crash of one of its 737 MAX 8 aircraft © AFP / Michael TEWELDE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – Ethiopian Airlines is making arrangements for relatives of 32 Kenyans who perished in Sunday’s crash of flight ET302 to travel to Addis Ababa.

Quindos Karanja, a relative to Caroline Karanja who died alongside her three kids and mother (Ann Karanja) told Capital FM the airline had offered to book those who were willing to travel to Addis Ababa on a Tuesday evening flight.

He said they have been assured of regular updates.

Quindos however said the family would not be sending a representative to Addis Ababa on Tuesday, adding they had decided to return to Nakuru where family meetings are being held.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia had said on Monday efforts were being made to contact some seven families yet to be reached, with the government confirming it had already contacted relatives of 25 Kenyans who were on board the ill-fated plane that crashed six minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport.

“Out of the 32 passengers who were on board, the teams have managed to reach out and talk to 25 families. Those who would like to fly to Addis Ababa, I’m sure they’ll be facilitated,” the Transport CS said on Monday.

Ethiopian Airlines Manager in Charge of Operations in Kenya, Yilma Goshu Gobena, said the airline was willing to help with travel arraignments and accommodation for the bereaved families.

“Concerning families and relatives who’d like to travel, we’re ready to assist to take them to Addis, give them accommodation, then constant updates will be given from the other side,” Gobena told the media.

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday announced the recovery of flight data and cockpit voice recorders, components which are vital in the ongoing investigation into the crash.

Gobena Monday told the media the airline had grounded all its Boeing 737 Max 8 out of caution as investigations into the fatal crash continue.

“We’ve grounded all Boeing 737-8 Max planes which Ethiopian Airlines was operating and which was involved in the accident yesterday as a precaution safety measure. This doesn’t mean that the incident was related to any defects on this specific fleet,” he said.

Gobena said the airline was focused on conducting investigations to establish the cause of the accident.

He said the airline “is giving utmost focus and attention to comforting and counselling relatives and friends of passengers who were on board the flight.”

China and Indonesia grounded similar fleet following the crash with Australia and Singapore banning the model from their airspace.

The ET302 flight crash claimed 157 lives including eight crew members when it crashed in Bishoftu some 60 kilometres southeast of Bole International Airport, six minutes after takeoff.

Kenya suffered the greatest fatalities – 32 – in the crash, the flight having been headed to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Sharif said the agency lost 22 personnel in the crash who were heading to Nairobi to attend a global environment assembly which commenced on Monday.

Canada lost 18 nationals in the crash with Ethiopia losing nine.

China Italy and United States of America had eight nationals in the flight while the United Kingdom and France lost seven citizens each in the crash.

The 737 Max 8 crash was the second most deadliest in six months, after a Lion Air flight departing from Jakarta in October 2018 killed all 189 passengers on board 13 minutes after takeoff.

The Sunday crash in Bishoftu raised eyebrows on the safety and familiarity of a new anti-stalling mechanism designed to prevent stalling by counterchecking the angle-of-attack of the plane using sensors.

Questions have been raised on whether pilots have been adequately trained to override the autopilot function popularly referred to as Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

The 737 Max 8 was first placed into commercial service in May 2017 by a Malaysian airline, Malindo Air, the twin-engine plane rising in popularity due to its fuel saving and long-range capability.

In Africa, the plane has been supplied to Ethiopian Airlines and Mauritania Airlines.

Boeing had by January received 5,011 orders for the plane with plans for the launch of a Max 10 model having been set for 2020.

In a statement following the crash, the airplane manufacturer had said it had dispatched a technical team to assist with investigations into the crash of ET302.

“A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board,” a statement released on Sunday read.

“Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team,” the company said.

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