Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409

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Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, similar to the one involved in the accident
Accident summary
Date 25 January 2010 (2010-01-25)
Summary Pilot Error
Site Mediterranean Sea, 3.5 km (1.9 nmi) off the coast of Na'ameh, Lebanon
33°45′28″N 35°25′49″E / 33.75778°N 35.43028°E / 33.75778; 35.43028Coordinates: 33°45′28″N 35°25′49″E / 33.75778°N 35.43028°E / 33.75778; 35.43028
Passengers 82
Crew 8
Fatalities 90 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Boeing 737-8AS
Operator Ethiopian Airlines
Registration ET-ANB
Flight origin Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon
Destination Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 was an international commercial flight scheduled from Beirut to Addis Ababa that plunged into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff from Rafic Hariri International Airport on 25 January 2010, killing all 90 people on board.[1][2] This was the first crash for Ethiopian Airlines since the hijack of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 in 1996.[3][4][5]

Aircraft[edit]

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-8AS, registration ET-ANB, s/n 29935.[1][6] It had its maiden flight on 18 January 2002, and was delivered new to Ryanair on 4 February 2002 as EI-CSW.[7] Stored in April 2009 (2009-04), Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of the aircraft on 12 September 2009, leased from CIT Aerospace.[3][7] Provided with a twin CFM56-7B26 powerplant, the airframe last underwent maintenance checks on 25 December 2009 without any technical problems found.[3][7][8] It was 8 years and 7 days old at the time the accident took place.

Accident[edit]

The Boeing 737 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport in stormy weather,[4] with 82 passengers and eight crew members on board.[9] The METAR data indicated wind speeds of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9 mph) out of varying directions and thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport. The aircraft climbed to 9,000 feet (2,700 m)[2][10] before radar contact was lost about four to five minutes into the flight,[11] while witnesses near the coast reported seeing the aircraft on fire as it crashed into the sea.[12][13] The flight was scheduled to arrive at Addis Ababa at 07:50 local time (04:50 UTC).[13]

Search and recovery[edit]

On the morning following the crash, Lebanese authorities reported having located the crash site 3.5 kilometres (1.9 nmi) off the coast from the village of Na'ameh.[14][15] The search for survivors was carried out by the Lebanese Army,[16] using Sikorsky S-61 helicopters, the Lebanese Navy and UNIFIL troops.[11] The U.S. military, in response to a request from the Lebanese government, sent the guided missile destroyer USS Ramage, a Navy P-3 aircraft,[17] and the salvage ship USNS Grapple.[18] The French Navy sent a Breguet Atlantic reconnaissance aircraft.[19] UNIFIL sent three ships (among them the German minesweeper tender Mosel and the Turkish B class corvette Bozcaada)[19] and two helicopters to the scene. Further helicopters to assist search and possibly rescue measures were sent by the Royal Air Force,[4] and the Cyprus Police aviation unit.[20]

The recovered bodies were sent to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut for DNA extraction and identification.[21] On 5 February 2010, it was reported that the American vessel Odyssey Explorer was due to arrive during the next week to assist in the search for the aircraft cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.[22] The Lebanese Army reported on 6 February that several large sections of the aircraft, believed to include the tail have been found in 45 metres (148 ft) of water at a location 1.1 nautical miles (2.0 km) off the coast of Na'ameh.[6] On 7 February 2010 the Lebanese Army divers were able to recover the plane's flight data recorder; which was sent to the Beirut Naval Base to be handed over to the plane crash investigation team.[23][24] All the deceased had been recovered from the sea and identified by 23 February 2010.[6]

Investigation[edit]

The Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority opened an investigation into the accident, which would see co-operation from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA)[25] and Boeing.[26] Lebanese President Michel Suleiman stated that terrorism had been ruled out as a cause.[27] Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri contradicted accusations that the aircraft should not have taken off in such stormy weather, claiming that all operations at the airport had been carried out normally.[28] Lebanese transportation and public works minister Ghazi Aridi and Lebanese defense minister Elias el-Murr reported that the pilot had failed to follow instructions from the control tower to correct his path and avoid the storm.[29] Ethiopian Airlines sent a 14-member team of investigators to the scene of the crash;[17] the United States also sent experts from the National Transportation Safety Board to help probe into the accident. The NTSB team is assisted by three technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.[30] The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were located on 4 February, reportedly at a sea depth of 100 metres (330 ft) and approximately 3 kilometres (1.6 nmi) from the shore of al-Na'ameh[31] and was sent to the BEA to undergo data analysis.[24] Four divers from the French Navy's Undersea intervention diving group have been sent to the crash location.[32] The Cockpit Voice Recorder was recovered missing a memory storage unit. This was reported on 16 February as having been recovered and forwarded to the BEA.[6]

Some aviation experts speculated (before the CVR was recovered which ruled out the possibility) that bad weather alone could not have brought down the plane and suggested that a technical fault may have caused an engine to catch fire.[33] Allegedly the preliminary report into the accident blames human error.[34]

The final report released by the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority blamed the pilots for the accident and recommended that the airline change its pairing policy to prevent two relatively inexperienced pilots flying together. It also claimed that the pilots were fatigued especially the captain who joked with his first officer about being extremely tired before take off. This caused the pilot to be confused when ATC were giving instructions and to not be fully aware during the emergency. The airline challenged the statements as biased, firmly convinced that the aircraft experienced an onboard explosion, based on eyewitness evidence of "a fireball falling into the sea", a CCTV video, and the lack of investigative information about the passengers and baggage.[35][36][37][38] According to Stratfor reports and emails shown on wikileaks, several senior Hizbullah members were meant to board the plane, and Hizbullah headquarters including Hassan Nasrallah were convinced the crash was the result of an act of sabotage by the Israeli Mossad.[39]

Passengers and crew[edit]

Ethiopian Airlines issued the following list of the nationalities of the victims:[40]

Country Passengers Crew Total
 Lebanon 51 - 51
 Ethiopia 23 8 31
 United Kingdom 2 - 2
 Canada 1 - 1
 France 1 - 1
 Iraq 1 - 1
 Russia 1 - 1
 Syria 1 - 1
 Turkey 1 - 1
Total 82 8 90

The wife of the French ambassador in Beirut, Marla Sanchez Pietton, was among the passengers.[29][41][42]

Aftermath[edit]

A memorial ceremony was held in the Ethiopian Airlines premises in Addis Ababa on 14 February 2010.[43] On the day of the crash, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri declared the day as a day of mourning, and closed all schools, offices and banks. The flight designator has been changed to 407 since the accident.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 25 August 2011.
  2. ^ a b Kaminski-Morrow, David (25 August 2011). "Inquiry details crashed Ethiopian 737's erratic flightpath". London: Flightglobal. Air Transport Intelligence news. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Karp, Aaron; Thomas, Geoffrey (26 June 2010). "Lebanese officials cite poor weather in Ethiopian 737 crash; NTSB to send investigator". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ethiopian Airlines jet crashes into sea off Beirut". BBC News. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Henry, Derrick (24 January 2010). "Ethiopian Airliner Crashes Near Beirut". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Crash: Ethiopian Airlines B738 near Beirut on 25 January 2010, lost height after takeoff and impacted Mediterranean". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c "Boeing 737 Next Gen MSN 29935". Airfleets.net. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Ladki, Nadim; Bayoumy, Yara (25 January 2010). "UPDATE 11-Ethiopian plane crashes off Beirut, 90 feared dead". Reuters. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Zablit, Jocelyne (25 January 2010). "Ethiopian airliner crashes near Beirut". The Sydney Morning Herald. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Kaminski-Morrow, David. "Contact with ill-fated Ethiopian 737 lost at 9,000ft". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Sandaruwan, Miyuru (25 January 2010). "ET409 crashed into sea". Airline Industry Review. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "Ethiopian jet crashes off Beirut". Al Jazeera. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes into Mediterranean sea". The Telegraph. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Ethiopian jet crash bodies pulled from sea off Beirut". BBC News. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  15. ^ Ladki, Nadim (24 January 2010). "Lebanon says Ethiopian plane crash site located". Reuters. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Ethiopian airliner crashes on takeoff in Lebanon". News.com.au. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Perry, Carl; Husseini, Nada (26 January 2010). "Bodies found from Ethiopian Airlines crash". CNN. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "US salvage ship to aid in Ethiopian Airlines aircraft recovery efforts". United States Navy. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "Accident du Boeing d’Ethiopian airlines: un Atlantique 2 mène les recherches". Ministry of Defence (France). Retrieved 8 February 2010. [dead link]
  20. ^ Hazou, Elias. "Ninety feared dead in Lebanon crash". Cyprus Mail. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Galey, Patrick; Omar Katerji. "90 feared dead in Ethiopian plane crash" (news). Dailystar.com.lb. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  22. ^ "Odyssey Explorer arrives in Lebanon next week, Al-Hayat reports". Now Lebanon. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  23. ^ An-Nahar. "Black Box Retrieved 14 Days after Ethiopian Plane Crash" (news). Naharnet. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  24. ^ a b "Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon". BBC News. 7 February 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 on 25 January 2010 B 737-800, registered ET-ANB" (Press release). Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Boeing Statement on Ethiopian Airlines Accident in Lebanon - Update" (Press release). Boeing. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  27. ^ Bonnett, Tom; Williams, David (25 January 2010). "Hopes Fade For 90 Plane Crash Passengers". Sky News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  28. ^ "Mitri Says Investigations In airliner Crash Are Ongoing". NOW News. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "Crashed Ethiopia plane 'flew into Beirut storm'". BBC News. 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  30. ^ Agence France-Presse. "US investigators to assist Lebanon with plane crash probe". iloubnan.info. Retrieved 2010-01-26. [dead link]
  31. ^ "Ethiopian crash jet flight recorders found off Lebanon". BBC News. 27 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  32. ^ "Crash du Boeing 737 d’Ethiopian Airlines : la CEPHISMER sur zone". Ministry of Defence (France). Retrieved 8 February 2010. [dead link]
  33. ^ Harrison, David (30 January 2010). "British investigators say Ethiopian Airlines plane crash 'similar' to earlier disaster". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  34. ^ "(Allegedly)Human Error behind Ethiopian Plane Crash: Preliminary Report". Naharnet. Retrieved 20 February 2010. [dead link]
  35. ^ Boynton, Christine (19 January 2012). "Ethiopian: Crash investigation report is incomplete, biased". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  36. ^ Perry, Dominic (19 January 2012). "Pilot error probable cause of Ethiopian Airlines 737 crash". London: Flightglobal. Flight International. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines Refutes ET 409 Crash Report" (Press release). Ethiopian Airlines. 17 January 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  38. ^ Eyewitness: 'Fire falling down into the sea' and CCTV footage of plane seemingly on fire plunging into sea
  39. ^ Preliminary Stratfor emails and reports about flight 409 investigation
  40. ^ "ET-409 Incident – 25 January 2010." Ethiopian Airlines. 25 January 2010. Retrieved on 25 January 2010.[dead link]
  41. ^ "Crash d'un avion au large du Liban avec 90 personnes à bord" (in French). TF1 News. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  42. ^ "Crash au Liban : peu d'espoir de trouver des survivants" (in French). Le Figaro. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  43. ^ "ET Flight 409 Accident Update 10 - 16 February, 2010." Ethiopian Airlines. Retrieved on 21 February 2010.[dead link]

External links[edit]