Ethiopian Airlines on Tuesday began operating the Boeing 737 MAX for the first time since a crash that killed all 157 people on board, the worst in Ethiopia’s history nearly three years ago.
Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi that crashed six minutes after takeoff into a field southeast of the Ethiopian capital in March 2019 triggered the global grounding of the aircraft and amounted to the worst crisis in Boeing’s history.
Five months after, a similar crash happened in Indonesia that left 189 people dead.
In a statement, the airline said the decision to resume 737 MAX flights came after “intense recertification” by regulators in the United States, the European Union, China and Ethiopia.
A first passenger flight will take place on Tuesday, the airline has said, without giving details.
The statement added: “Our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, and cabin crew are fully prepared to take the B737 MAX back to the skies and we look forward to welcoming you on board.”
The state-owned airline had four of the jets in its fleet at the time of the crash.
Ethiopian Airlines, the jewel of the economy of Africa’s second most populous country, had long said it would be the last carrier to use the single-aisle jets again. Yeshiwas Fentahun, who was president of Ethiopia’s independent pilots’ association in 2019, commended the decision to wait.
Legal documents filed in November in Chicago, where Boeing is headquartered showed an agreement was reached with the victims’ families, but it did not mention specific sums, as jurors will be responsible for assessing amounts.
Boeing also accepted responsibility for the crash.