Boeing facing questions after Ethiopian Airlines plane crash kills all 157 on board

US plane maker Boeing is facing pressure to guarantee the safety of its 737 Max 8 aircraft after the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people, including seven Britons.

While the cause of the is not yet known, it shares similarities with last year's Lion Air jet plunging into the Java Sea, killing 189.

That crash also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashing minutes after takeoff.

Ethiopia's state-affiliated broadcaster has said that the plane's black box which contains a flight recorder has been recovered.

All Chinese airlines were ordered to temporarily ground their Max 8 planes by the country’s aviation watchdog on Monday, while Cayman Airways has suspended operations with both of its new planes.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was “closely monitoring developments” following Sunday's crash.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, which currently issues directives for the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, is yet to comment.

The plane crashed just six minutes after taking off. Credit: PA Graphics
  • What happened in Sunday's crash?

An Ethiopian Airways plane crashed six minutes after taking off for Nairobi, Kenya, from Addis Ababa at 8.44am local time, in clear conditions.

The plane came down near Bishoftu, some 31 miles (50km) south of the capital at 8.44am.

The cause of the crash is yet to be determined but the airline confirmed the pilot had notified officials of difficulties and the plane had been cleared to turn around during its six minutes in the air.

The plane had flown from Johannesburg to the Ethiopian capital earlier on Sunday morning, and had undergone a “rigorous” testing on February 4.

An eyewitness described how there was an intense fire when the plane crashed and "everything is burnt down".

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

Joanna Toole was the first named British victim of the crash. Credit: Facebook/Joanna Toole
  • Who was killed in the crash?

British United Nations worker Joanna Toole, a 36-year-old from Devon, was named among the 157 people killed when flight ET302 crashed.

Ms Toole was making her way to a UN Environment Assembly which begins in the Kenyan capital on Monday.

At least 19 employees of UN-affiliated organisations were killed in the crash.

Speaking to ITV News on Sunday, Ms Toole's father, Adrian, paid tribute to his daughter who was so "warm" that "nobody had a bad word to say about her".

The 36-year-old was "as warm and as good with people as she was with animals", her father said.

Mr Toole continued that his daughter was so "well-balanced" and "had such a warm touch, you'd not find anybody say a bad word against her".

Colleagues at the UN fisheries and aquaculture department described Ms Toole as a “wonderful human being”.

A second British victim was named as Joseph Waithaka - a 55-year-old Kenyan and British dual national.

Dual Kenyan and British national Joseph Waithaka was killed in the crash. Credit: Facebook/Ben Kuria

Mr Waithaka had lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya in 2015.

Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, Mr Waithaka's son, Ben Kuria said his father had worked for the Probation Service, adding: "He helped so many people in Hull who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law."

The third British victim was polar tourism expert Sarah Auffret, who was also travelling to the Nairobi summit, where she was due to discuss tackling plastic pollution in the seas.

Sarah Auffret was travelling to the Nairobi summit where she was due to discuss tackling plastic pollution in the seas. Credit: Facebook/Sarah Auffret
  • Who else was killed in the crash?

There were no survivors among the 148 passengers and nine crew members - from at least 35 nationalities - on board.

Among the 157 dead were:

  • 32 Kenyans

  • 18 Canadians and Ethiopians (nine passengers and nine crew members)

  • Eight Chinese, Italians and Americans

  • Seven French

  • Six Egyptians

  • Five from the Netherlands and Germany

  • Four Indians and Slovakians

  • Three Russians, Austrians and Swedes

  • Two Spaniards, Israelis, Moroccans and Poles

  • One person from Belgium, Djibouti, Indonesia, Ireland, Mozambique, Norway, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Serbia, Togo, Uganda, Yemen, Nepal, Nigeria and one with a UN passport

Slovakian MP Anton Hrnko confirmed on Facebook that his wife Blanka, son Martin, and daughter Michala all died in the crash.

Hospitality company Tamarind Group - a Kenyan business which owns and runs restaurants, hotels and a casino - said its chief executive Jonathan Seex was killed in the crash.

United Nations aid worker and Irish engineer Michael (Mick) Ryan was also named amongst the dead.

The father-of-two was based in Rome with the UN’s World Food Programme, which distributes rations to people in need.

Known as Mick and formerly from Lahinch in Co Clare, Mr Ryan was celebrated for “doing life-changing work in Africa” by Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

  • What has Boeing said about the crash?

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said on Sunday that the firm is providing “technical assistance” to Ethiopian government and regulatory authorities in their investigation.

Mr Muilenburg continued that a technical team would be travelling to the crash site to work alongside the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and the US National Transportation Board.

He added the company was "deeply saddened" over the deaths and extended their "heartfelt sympathies" to those who had lost loved ones.

  • What has Ethiopian Airways done?

Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its remaining Max 8 aircraft.

Its chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the operator was “one of the safest” in the world, adding: “At this stage we cannot rule out anything.”

Ethiopian Airlines said it had contacted the families of all victims, who came from 35 nations.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 Credit: PA Graphics
  • What has the response been from other countries and airlines?

The Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a notice on Monday at 9am local time (1am GMT) ordering domestic airlines to suspend the commercial operation of the Boeing 737 Max 8 before 6pm.

Meanwhile Cayman Airways president Fabian Whorms said both of the airline’s new Max 8s will not fly from Monday.

Tui Airways became the first UK airline to receive a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in December last year and plans to have a total of 32 in its fleet.

There are currently 15 of the aircraft across Tui's six European airlines, but the firm said it would not take any action in response to the Ethiopian Airlines crash, saying they "do not comment on any speculation and we are, as always, in close contact with the manufacturer.

"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.

The carrier's director of flight operations Tomas Hesthammer said all their 737 Max aircrafts were operating as normal.

"We are in close dialogue with Boeing and follow their and the aviation authorities' instructions and recommendations.

"Our passengers' safety is and will always be our top priority."

While the cause of the crash is not yet known, the crash shared similarities with last year’s Lion Air jet plunging into the Java Sea, killing 189.

That also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashing minutes after takeoff.

Indonesia’s national transport safety agency has said it is ready to assist Ethiopian authorities with their probe.

The country has also grounded its 737 Max 8s while inspections take place.

Wreckage lies at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight Credit: AP
  • What has the response been from the UK?

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened” to learn of the disaster, and offered her thoughts to everyone “affected by this tragic incident”.

The UK's ambassador to Ethiopia confirmed the deaths of seven Britons in a video post in which he also said Foreign Office staff are working to find out more details on what happened.

Mr McPhail expressed his condolences to the victims and urged people worried about loved ones to follow the Foreign Office's social media channels for more information and details on who to contact if families and friends are worried about loved ones.

The British embassy in Ethiopia listed the emergency contact numbers for anyone worried about British nationals.