A few days before the flight 302 accident turns three years old, Ethiopian Airlines is expected to resume operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
The African airline hopes to put the aircraft back into service in February 2022, announced Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian CEO.
“We are now returning the B737 MAX to service not only after the recertification by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), EASA of Europe, Transport Canada, CAAC, ECAA and other regulatory bodies but also after the return to service by more than 34 airlines around the world,” said GebreMariam.
The Ethiopian chief executive explained that the carrier had pledged to be one of the last to return to flying with 737 MAX: “We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous recertification process and we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet,” he said.
According to Ethiopian, more than 275,000 commercial flights have been carried out with Boeing aircraft since the resumption of operation a year ago.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 took off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on March 10, 2019, bound for Nairobi, Kenya, with 149 passengers and eight crew.
Six minutes after take-off, the jet dove towards the ground after failures in systems of the 737 MAX, particularly the MCAS, which was designed to assist pilots in situations of pronounced angle of attack. All occupants died.
The accident was the second with the new Boeing 737 variant, six months after a Malindo Air MAX had a similar problem that also killed all passengers and crew.
The loss of the second 737 MAX caused several civil aviation authorities to ban its operation until the causes of the accidents were clarified.
Boeing and the FAA, however, were slow to recognize that there were design problems, receiving public pressure to admit errors in the certification of the aircraft.
Only in November 2021, planemaker and the US civil aviation agency finalized the necessary changes for the 737 MAX to return to revenue flights.