Boeing 737: Countries temporarily ground jets following second fatal crash

The identities of British victims of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster have emerged amid growing international concern over Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Nine British nationals were on board flight ET302 when it crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second deadly incident involving the new model of Boeing passenger jet in less than five months, prompting concern over its safety.

Singapore was among the countries to take action on Tuesday when its civil aviation authority temporarily suspended operation of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, variations of which number 7 to 10, into and out of its airports.

The move prohibited services to and from Changi Airport, one of the largest hubs in Southeast Asia, while Singapore Airlines subsidiary SilkAir said it was temporarily withdrawing its six Max 8s.

It comes after Chinese and Indonesian regulators ordered their airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on Monday.

China Ethiopia Plane Crash Boeing
SilkAir’ has temporarily grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft (Wong Maye-E/AP)

“Soft and loving” Joanna Toole, a United Nations worker, was among the British victims, along with 55-year-old Joseph Waithaka, polar tourism expert Sarah Auffret, Sahra Hassan Said and Nasrudin Abdulkadir, a mother and son with dual Somali-British citizenship, and Sam Pegram, a 25-year-old from Lancashire.

The mother of Mr Pegram, Deborah, told the Lancashire Evening Post: “Sam was so looking forward to going to Nairobi. He loved the work he was doing. “We can’t believe this has happened. We’re totally devastated.”

The paper said Mr Pegram was working for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and was heading to Kenya to work with a training programme.

The NRC said on Monday that it was “deeply distressed” by the news that two of its people were on the flight.

United Nations worker Joanna Toole, 36, from Devon, was the first British victim to be named.

Ms Toole’s father Adrian, from Exmouth, told the DevonLive website that she was “genuinely one of those people who you never hear a bad word about”.

Joseph Waithaka, 55, who lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya, also died in the crash, his son said.

The one Irish victim was named as Michael Ryan, a married father-of-two based in Rome with the UN’s World Food Programme, which distributes rations to people in need.

As many as 19 UN workers were feared to have been killed in the crash, the number being so high because of its environmental forum which started on Monday.

Ethiopia Plane Crash
Framed photographs of seven crew members are displayed at a memorial service (Samuel Habtab/AP)

In the US the Federal Aviation Administration said the Boeing’s 737 Max 8 were safe to operate, although it had a team on the ground in Ethiopia to assist with the investigation and was continuously assessing the safety performance of the aircraft.

This process is validated for European Union countries by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The UK Civil Aviation Authority said it was “liaising very closely” with EASA.

Several airlines serving UK airports are continuing to fly the aircraft model involved in the deadly crash, despite it being grounded in several countries including China, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Tui Airways has the only five 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by a UK-based airline, and is due to begin flying a sixth later this week.

Asked if the airline would take any action in response to the crash, a spokesman for parent company Tui said: “We have no indication that we can’t operate our 737 Max in a safe way like we do with all other planes in our network.”

Scandinavian airline Norwegian, which serves London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK, has 18 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

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Boeing 737 MAX 8 factfile (PA Graphics)

A number of airlines have grounded their fleet of the aircraft model, including Royal Air Maroc, Cayman Airways, Mongolian Airlines and Comair, which is a British Airways franchise in southern Africa.

The Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed six minutes after taking off from the capital Addis Ababa.

Both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the wreckage.

While the cause is not yet known, the crash shared similarities with last year’s Lion Air jet crash in the Java Sea, which killed 189. That also involved a 737 Max 8 crashing minutes after take-off.

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam said the pilot had sent out a distress call and was given the all-clear to return to the airport.

Senior captain Yared Getachew had a “commendable performance” having completed more than 8,000 hours in the air, the airline said.

Accident Bulletin no. 6 Issued on March 11, 2019 at 01:40 PM Local TimeThe Digital Flight Data Recorder(DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder(CVR) of ET302 have been Recovered.

— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 11, 2019

Chicago-based Boeing is facing pressure to guarantee the safety of its 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The firm’s chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said it was providing “technical assistance” to the Ethiopian government and regulatory authorities in their investigation.

The passengers killed in Sunday’s crash came from 35 nations, including 32 from Kenya and 18 from Canada.