Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebre-Mariam says that both the captain and the first officer of the ill-fated Flight ET302, which crashed near the town of Bishoftu 62km south-east of the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday morning killing all 157 people on board, were experienced pilots.

The East African reports that Tewolde said Captain Yared Getachew, an Ethiopian-born Kenyan national, was the senior pilot, who had been flying the same plane since November 2007. His first officer, Ahmednur Mohamednur, had several flight hours under his belt.

The Boeing 737 Max-plane, which underwent a routine maintenance check on 4 February, was flying from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when it crashed.

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Contact with the plane was lost less than 10 minutes after it took off from Bole Airport  before the crash claimed the lives of all on board from 33 different countries – the majority of them Kenyan.

The brand-new aircraft was delivered by Boeing to Ethiopia last year.

Expressing sadness over the incident, Boeing said it would provide technical assistance to find out why its aircraft crashed, under the direction of the US National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash was Ethiopian Airlines’ second major accident since the 1996 Comoros hijacking tragedy that culminated in a crash that killed 125 of the 175 passengers.

– African News Agency

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