Ethiopian Airlines: Air safety three years after Boeing crash

JULIANA AJAYI recounts the Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing crash in 2019, the victims and air safety

“Are you okay? Please respond to this ASAP” was the last question he got to ask his friend.

Dr Aloy Chife recently tweeted on his timeline, “Still calling Prof Pius Adesanmi. Prof, please come; the locusts have eaten all our crops.” Thus Chife did to recall his last conversation with the scholar.

Adesanmi, a Nigerian intellectual, was not only a professor, but a writer, columnist and satirist. He was a Nigerian-born Canadian professor of Literature and African Studies in Carleton University. 

Ambassador Abiodun Bashua was United Nations and African Union Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan. He was described as a perfect gentleman at the time of his death

Adesanmi and Bashua were the two Nigerians among the 157 passengers that died in the Ethiopian Boeing air crash in 2019.



Adesanmi meant different things to different people, including a friend and a mentor. 

“My mentors always encourage me using his story,” a respondent said.

Adewuyi Adebimpe said that during her master’s programme in 2018, she sent an email to Adesanmi indicating her interest in applying for a Ph.D programme. According to her, Adesanmi responded, “Complete your masters and let’s restart this conversation then.”

She said, three years since the scholar departed, his life and works continue to inspire her, hoping to follow his footsteps. “He studied French and had great academic records, and my mentors used to encourage me with his story, as I had similar academic records in that line as well. He was a literary scholar and a writer. I also write as well and into literature.”


Ethiopian Airlines 

The Ethiopian Airlines is rated as the fastest growing airline in Africa. Not only is the airline making huge contribution in the aviation industry, it is living up to its slogan – the new spirit of Africa. 

In 2010, the airline entered into a codeshare agreement with Scandinavian Airlines. Another one was signed in 2011 with Singapore Airlines and Asiana Airlines. The agreement allows two airlines to share flight number by putting a designator code on a flight by another airline. For Nigerian airlines, this exists between Dana and Ibom airlines.

According to Ethiopian Airlines, the agreement with Scandinavian Airlines provides travellers with better connectivity and a broad range of services between Europe and Africa. Other feats by the airline include Best Airline in Africa more than five times, Africa Lease Deal of the Year 2018, among others. 

Despite the successes recorded in the aviation industry, the airline, in 2019, experienced one of its deadliest accidents.

“Ethiopian Airlines regrets to confirm that its flight ET302/10 March in scheduled service from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in an accident around Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) Ejere Wereda Tulu Fera Kebele. The aircraft B-737-800 MAX with registration number ET-AVJ took off at 08:38am local time from Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport and lost contact at 08:44am. One hundred and fifty-seven passengers and flight crew lost their lives in the accident,” it said on its website. 


What went wrong in 2019?

The aircraft involved in the accident in 2019 was a Boeing aircraft, which some expressed concerns over. That is not the first aircraft to be purchased by the airline. The airline has a history with Boeing aircraft. 

In 2011, the airline received three Boeing 777-200LRs, which increased the number of 777-200LRs to five. Also, in 2014, Ethiopian Airlines received four Boeing 787s, increasing the number to 10. It also received two Boeing 777Fs, increasing the number of that model to four.

An order was also made in 2019 for 20 737MAX8s from Boeing. According to the airline, the order was the largest single Boeing order by number of airplanes from an African carrier.

The Ethiopian Boeing B-737-800 MAX crashed shortly after taking off from Bole International Airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya. There was no survivor from the crash, which claimed 157 lives. The people who died from the accident were nationals of over 30 countries.

Concerns were raised, as the aircraft was less than five months old. 

According to a report by the BBC in 2019, the Ethiopian airline, prior to the accident, had always been reputed to be safe. Though in 2020, the interim report was centred on the design of the aircraft. Concerned parties and authorities are still raising more questions as to what happened in 2019. 


Significance of investigations 

According to the Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria, its fundamental objective is to improve aviation safety by determining the circumstances and causes of air accidents and serious incidents, as well as providing safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence of similar accidents.

Lookman Animashaun, an aircraft engineer, said, “Any aircraft involved in accidents or any incident deserves to be investigated, and this is why the AIB is created. They investigate what leads to any incident relating to aircraft.

“If an accident is well investigated, it leads to a root of the incident, which enables them to make proper recommendations to prevent such recurrence.

“This is not just for the airline or for the civil aviation authority of that country, it is also for other airlines within and outside to take cognizance of the reports. Investigations on incidents are important whether they involve loss of lives or not.”


Role of NCAA in aviation safety

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority prides itself as an autonomous body, which regulates aviation safety without political interference, in addition to carrying out oversight functions on airports, airspace, meteorological services as well as economic regulations of the aviation industry.

All air accidents within and outside Nigeria are governed by the same regulations, as revealed by the NCAA. However, in cases of air accidents involving loss of lives, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said, “$100,000 per victim is the minimum compensation. However, beyond civil aviation authority support, the Federal Government will be involved because another sovereign nation’s plane is involved in terms of repatriation of bodies. In all these, the NCAA will collaborate with other agencies and other federal ministries concerned. “

Emphasising aviation safety, Adurogboye notes that the NCAA is actively involved in the International Civil Aviation Organisation programmes.

He added, “On safety, we also collaborate with the active involvement of ICAO, share safety information, exchange programmes and so on.”


Air passengers and safety

According to the International Air Transport Association, approximately 100,000 flights take to the sky and land without incident daily. IATA also affirms that getting on an aircraft is among the safest activities, even as flying continues to be of great help to modern life. 

IATA recognises safety as number one priority. In its quest to enhance safety across the aviation industry, the association designed the six-point safety strategy to identify organisational, operational and emerging safety issues. 

The strategy, according to the IATA, includes reducing the operational risk, which is a basic concern to every airline, enhancing quality compliance, advocating improved aviation infrastructure, supporting consistent implementation of safety management systems, supporting effective recruitment and training and identifying and addressing emerging safety issues. 

Some Nigerian air passengers, who fly Ethiopian Airlines regularly, as well as RwandAir, when transiting to Dubai, were interviewed and they explicitly described safety as incomplete without the safety of their luggage.

Another passenger, identified as Florence Adiele, noted that since the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease, health has been prioritised as a key factor in air safety.

She said, “Most importantly, during this period of COVID-19, ensure you have all the necessary travel documents and take every jab that needs to be taken.”

A gold merchant, simply identified as Olaitan, explained that the safety measure she takes on board is by keeping her goods in her hand luggage.

Her words, “Your goods should be in your hand luggage, if minimal; but if not, use a fragile box to pack them and make sure it is locked because of flight theft. This is because your luggage is not secure, if not properly locked and sealed; they will get stolen or removed from your luggage.” 

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles