By Chris Onuoha.
Additional report by CNN
A Greek man said he missed the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed just after taking off from Addis Ababa by mere minutes, in a Facebook post that has now been shared thousands of times.
In a post called ‘My Lucky Day,’ Antonis Mavropoulos shared an image of what appears to be his boarding pass and says he arrived at his gate just after boarding had finished on Sunday morning.
“When I arrived, boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers in (the) tunnel go in. I screamed to put me in but they didn’t allow it,” he wrote.
The flight crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board.
Mavropoulos says he was transferred to the next flight to Nairobi but was later told he was unable to board because security wanted to talk with him after discovering the plane had lost contact.
A security staff member “told me gently not to protest and ‘say thank you to God’, because I am the only passenger who did not enter the flight,” Mavropoulos wrote.
The ill-fated flight was packed with humanitarian workers and international experts, many of whom were bound for a major United Nations environmental summit in the Kenyan capital.
Mavropoulos wrote that he texted friends in Nairobi trying to get news of the plane, before eventually receiving a message from a friend in Greece confirming the news.
“I collapsed because then I realized how lucky I was,” he wrote.
Ethiopian Airlines said passengers from at least 35 countries were on the flight.
The crash has led to questions about Boeing’s new 737 MAX 8 jet, which was also involved in the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people last October.
“At this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” Charlie Miller, Boeing’s vice president of communications, said in a statement.
Although none of Nigeria’s airlines flies this type of plane, Air Peace said it was proceeding with its order to procure 10 of the brand.
Two US airlines fly the 737 MAX 8.
American Airlines — which flies 24 of the new planes — said in a statement to CNN on Monday that it is monitoring the investigation in Ethiopia and following last year’s Federal Aviation Administration directive after the crash in Indonesia of Lion Air Flight 610.
The airline “continues to collaborate with the FAA and other regulatory authorities” and it has “full confidence in the aircraft,” the statement said.
The crashes of two new jets during such a short time period has focused extraordinary attention on the 737 MAX 8, its operators and national regulators — so much so that Ethiopian Airlines, China and Indonesia have grounded all planes of that type, nationwide. In the Caribbean, Cayman Airways has decided to ground its 737 MAX 8s.
Southwest — which includes 34 737 MAX 8s in its fleet — said in a statement it doesn’t plan to change its operational policies or procedures and it remains confident in the safety of its entire fleet. “We have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses,” Southwest said in the statement.
It’s very early in the investigation. Because the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were only recovered Monday, the two crashes have not been directly linked. There are countless reasons a plane can crash — including birds flying into engines, a problem with weight balance or pilot error.
“This is all so premature,” said John Gogila — former National Transportation Safety Board member. “What I would offer is a word of caution. We need to get the data analyzed first and then decide how to move forward.”
Goglia said airlines that fly the 737 MAX 8 should be reviewing their flight training for the aircraft.
‘Behind the scenes’
“You can’t underestimate the power of what goes on behind the scenes at airlines,” said William Voss, a former FAA deputy director and ex-CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation. “If they think they have a threat, they will step up and respond independently.”
Investigators in the Lion Air crash suspect the crash was caused by an angle of attack (AOA) sensor on the outside of the plane which transmitted incorrect data that could have triggered a kind of auto-pilot system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that forced the plane’s nose down.
Voss said he thinks airlines that fly the 737 MAX 8 have been “doubling up on inspections of sensors” and making sure all pertinent information about the plane has been communicated to pilots. “And I would be in continuous communications with Boeing,” Voss said.
In November Boeing issued an
‘Operations Manual Bulletin’ advising airline operators how to address erroneous cockpit readings. It pointed airlines “to existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA sensor,” a Boeing statement said. The FAA later issued its own emergency airworthiness directive that advised pilots about how to respond to similar problems.
Voss also warned against rampant speculation about the investigation and allowing social media to drive it. “Social media has changed the way we see the world but nothing has changed the reality and physics of human error,” he said. “So we can’t let social media drive decisions about reality.”
United Airlines flies a different version of the 737 MAX — the 737 MAX 9. It currently has 14 in its fleet. Although there are no reports that MAX 9s have had any trouble with their AOA sensors, the FAA included that type of plane in its November emergency directive.
How to know if you’re booked on a 737 MAX 8
For passengers, there are three fairly simple ways to know if you’re booked to fly on a 737 MAX 8.
- Check your airline site or app. Clicking on the flight number will show you what type of airplane is assigned to the flight.
- Check the registration of the airplane on the FAA site. Before you board, note the registration number which is clearly marked on the side of the plane. Plug that number into the FAA registration data base here.
- Aviation apps such as FlightRadar24 make it easy to see the type of airplane on which you’re scheduled to fly. Look up your flight number or use the app filter function to track all 737 MAX 8s and any other aircraft.
There are approximately 350 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in operation worldwide, being flown by 54 operators, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Travellers can check the full list of airlines that fly the plane on the Boeing website.
Who is grounding planes?
Ethiopian Airlines The carrier has grounded the remaining four Boeing 737 Max 8s in its fleet until further notice, as an “extra safety precaution.”
Chinese airlines including the ‘Big Three’ Chinese carriers — China Airlines, China Eastern and China Southern — operate 97 of the planes, according to state-run media. In the wake of Sunday’s crash, the country’s Civil Aviation Administration ordered all domestic 737 Max 8 jets out of the air by 6 p.m. local time Monday, citing “zero tolerance for safety hazards.”
Indonesia temporarily grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes operated by its airlines on Monday, pending further inspections.
In a statement, the Directorate General of Air Transportation at the Ministry of Transportation said the policy would “ensure that aircraft operating in Indonesia are in an airworthy condition.”
The Mexican carrier is temporarily suspending the use of its six 737 Max 8 planes “until more thorough information on the investigation of flight ET302 accident can be provided.”
The Argentine airline said it would temporarily suspend commercial operations for the five 737 Max 8s in its fleet.
Cayman Airways operates two new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. It said Monday it was grounding both planes “until more information is received.”
The South African carrier said it would remove the 737 Max 8 from its flight schedule, despite the fact that “neither regulatory authorities nor the manufacturer has required it to do so.”
“While Comair has done extensive preparatory work prior to the introduction of the first 737 Max 8 into its fleet and remains confident in the inherent safety of the aircraft, it has decided temporarily not to schedule the aircraft while it consults with other operators, Boeing and technical experts,” the airline said in a statement.
South Korean low-cost carrier Eastar Jet said it would temporarily ground its two 737 Max 8 planes starting Wednesday to “dispel the worry and concern of the people.”
The company said operations would resume when there were no more safety concerns.
TUI Airways — one of the UK’s largest air carriers — issued a statement Tuesday confirming that all 15 of its 737 Max 8 aircraft operating in the UK have been grounded.
That decision follows guidance from the UK regulatory authorities, the carrier said.
It added, “Any customers due to fly home today on a 737 Max 8 from their holiday will be flown back on another aircraft. Customers due to travel in the coming days will also travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft. The safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff has remained our primary concern.”
GOL Linhas Aéreas
The Brazilian airline has suspended flights of the seven 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, part of a total 121 Boeing aircraft.
In a statement, the company apologized for any inconvenience to customers.
On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia announced the immediate suspension of Boeing 737 MAX 8 operations in Malaysian airspace until further notice.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer will close the airspace for the Boeing 737 Max 8, a Transport Ministry spokesperson told CNN on Tuesday.
Icelandic airline Icelandair confirmed they are to suspend the aircraft in a tweet on their official account on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Fly Dubai announced its fleet of Max 8 and Max 9 planes would be grounded at the order of the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority.
The city’s Civil Aviation Department announced it had temporarily suspended operation of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft, Wednesday.
Fiji Airways currently flies two 737 Max 8 aircraft and has three on order for 2019. It had previously said it would keep flying them before changing its mind on Wednesday after consulting with Fiji’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Russia’s S7 Airlines
Russia’s second largest airlines, S7, announced Wednesday it would be grounding its two 737 planes until further notice until more detailed information was available about the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Unlike much of the rest of the world, Canada continues to allow Max 8 planes to operate in its airspace. But carrier Sunwing Airlines announced Wednesday it would be grounding its fleet of four planes, not out of safety concerns but because it was too difficult to use them at present.
“For evolving commercial reasons unrelated to safety including airspace restrictions being imposed by some of our partner destinations, Sunwing Airlines has taken the decision,” the airline said.
Who has banned the whole Boeing 737 Max range?
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced Tuesday it was “temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of Singapore in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft in less than five months.”
The suspension will start at 2 p.m. Singapore time and effect SilkAir, a regional carrier in the city-state, and the following airlines that fly into Singapore: China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.
SilkAir previously said it had no plans to ground its six 737 Max 8 aircraft, which operate between Bengaluru, Cairns, Chongqing, Darwin, Hiroshima, Hyderabad, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket and Wuhan.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has temporarily suspended airlines from flying all Boeing 737 Max jets to or from Australia.
“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 Max to and from Australia,” CASA CEO Shane Carmody said.
No Australian airlines fly the 737 Max, CASA said, but two foreign carriers had previously flown the aircraft into the country — Singapore’s SilkAir and Fiji Airways. SilkAir has been temporarily barred from flying any 737 Max out of Singapore by the city-state’s aviation authority, though Fiji Airways said Tuesday that it would continue flying the two 737 Max 8s in its fleet.
CASA said in a statement it was working with Fiji Airways to minimize disruptions to passengers.
UK Civil Aviation Authority
The UK has banned all 737 Max aircraft from its airspace, not just 8s, according to a spokesman.
“We have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace,” the regulator said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the Omani Civil Aviation authority tweeted that it is suspending operations of Boeing 737 Max aircraft “until further notice.”
Norwegian has 18 737 Max 8 aircraft and will temporarily suspend operations from Tuesday, according to a press release.
Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting Chief Operating Officer, apologized to customers, saying “safety will always remain our top priority,” according to the press release.
France’s DGAC civil aviation authority says it has decided to ban Boeing 737 Max aircraft from French airspace.
“French airline companies do not have Boeing 737 Max in their fleets. Nevertheless, given the circumstances of the accident in Ethiopia, the French authorities took the decision, as a precautionary measure, to prohibit any commercial flight carried out on a Boeing 737 Max to, from, or over French territory” the statement read.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has “temporarily” suspended Boeing all 737 Max aircraft from Irish airspace, a statement from the organization said on Tuesday.
The suspension came into effect at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
“During the temporary suspension, the IAA will continue to work closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the manufacturer Boeing,” the statement also said.
Turkey’s transportation and infrastructure ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it is grounding all Boeing 737 Max type aircraft.
“This decision grounds the aircraft being operated by Turkish companies in Turkey. Turkey has not closed off it’s airspace to the aircraft, but it is still on the table and is being reviewed,” a spokesperson told CNN on Tuesday.
In a major blow to Boeing, the European Union announced Tuesday that all flights into, within or out of the EU on the Boeing Max aircraft would be banned.
United Arab Emirates
From midnight Wednesday, all Boeing Max 8 and Max 9 planes were banned from UAE airspace, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced Tuesday, noting the similarities between the Lion Air crash in October and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster.
The Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) in Kuwait announced all Boeing 737 Max 8 flights would be banned until further notice.
New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority announced Wednesday that Max 8 planes would not be allowed to fly into or out of the country temporarily, saying there was a “level of uncertainty” around the model.
One day after grounding all Indian carrier’s fleets, the Ministry of Aviation announced its airspace was shut to all Boeing 737 Max aircraft until further notice on Wednesday.
Who is still flying the Boeing 737 Max?
The US carrier has 24 737 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet and says it has no plans to ground them at the moment.
In a statement, American Airlines expressed its condolences to the families of those killed, and said it would continue to monitor the investigation into the crash.
“At this time there are no facts on the cause of the accident other than news reports,” read the statement. “We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry.”
The US carrier has 34 of the aircraft in its fleet and says it does not plan to change its operational policies or procedures.
“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft,” read a statement from the airline.
Also a US airline, United doesn’t operate any Max 8s, but it does fly 14 737 Max 9s — a longer version of the Max 8. The Max 9 has never crashed, but It was included in an FAA emergency airworthiness directive following the Lion Air tragedy.
Flydubai operates 11 Boeing 737 Max 8s, and says it “remain(s) confident in the airworthiness of our fleet.”
“We are monitoring the situation and continue to be in touch with Boeing… The safety of our passengers and crew is our first priority,” the airline said in a statement.
“The aviation sector is highly regulated and Flydubai rigorously adheres to all regulations,” it added.
Canadian airline WestJet says it has 13 Max 8 aircraft and a total of 121 Boeing 737s in its fleet.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and will not speculate on the cause of the incident,” the airline said in a statement. “WestJet remains confident in the safety of our Boeing 737 fleet including our 13 Max-8 aircraft first introduced in 2017.”
What other aviation authorities are saying Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
On Sunday, the US aviation authority said it would help Ethiopian authorities investigate the crash.
Following the Lion Air crash involving a 737 Max 8 in October, the FAA said it had “sent out an emergency Airworthiness Directive to advise carriers and pilots on training to disengage the aircraft’s automated controls if there are anomalies.”
In a statement Tuesday, Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said there was “no basis to order grounding” of the planes. “Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” he said.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
EASA said it was monitoring the crash investigation closely.
“We will immediately publish any further information on our website as the necessary information is available,” the agency said in a statement.
Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
India’s aviation authority said Tuesday it would not ground the 737 Max 8s operating in the country. However it did announce a series of interim safety measures required of airlines operating the specific Boeing aircraft.
According to the DGCA, only two Indian carriers have 737 Max 8s in their fleets — Spicejet has 12 and Jet Airways has five.