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Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 was an international commercial flight scheduled from Beirut to Addis Ababa that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff from Rafic Hariri International Airport on 25 January 2010, killing all 90 people on board. This was the first fatal crash for Ethiopian Airlines since the hijack of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 in 1996. The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-8AS, registration ET-ANB, s/n 29935. It had its maiden flight on 18 January 2002, and was delivered new to Ryanair on 4 February 2002 as EI-CSW. Stored in April 2009 (2009-04), Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of the aircraft on 12 September 2009, leased from CIT Aerospace. Provided with twin CFM56-7B26 powerplants, the airframe last underwent maintenance checks on 25 December 2009 without any technical problems found. It was 8 years and 7 days old at the time the accident took place.
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, similar to the one involved in the accident
|Date||25 January 2010|
|Summary||Crashed shortly after takeoff|
|Site||Mediterranean Sea, 3.5 km (1.9 nmi; 2.2 mi) off the coast of Na'ameh, Lebanon |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-8AS|
|Flight origin||Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon|
|Destination||Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 was an international commercial flight scheduled from Beirut to Addis Ababa that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff from Rafic Hariri International Airport on 25 January 2010, killing all 90 people on board. This was the first fatal crash for Ethiopian Airlines since the hijack of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 in 1996.
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-8AS, registration ET-ANB, s/n 29935. It had its maiden flight on 18 January 2002, and was delivered new to Ryanair on 4 February 2002 as EI-CSW. Stored in April 2009 (2009-04), Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of the aircraft on 12 September 2009, leased from CIT Aerospace. Provided with twin CFM56-7B26 powerplants, the airframe last underwent maintenance checks on 25 December 2009 without any technical problems found. It was 8 years and 7 days old at the time the accident took place.
The Boeing 737 took-off from runway 21 at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport in stormy weather, with 82 passengers and eight crew members on board. The METAR data indicated wind speeds of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9 mph) out of varying directions and thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport. The aircraft climbed to 9,000 feet (2,700 m) turned sharply towards the left, stalled, and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. Radar contact was lost about four to five minutes into the flight, while witnesses near the coast reported seeing the aircraft on fire as it crashed into the sea. The flight was scheduled to arrive at Addis Ababa at 07:50 local time (04:50 UTC).
On the morning following the crash, Lebanese authorities reported having located the crash site 3.5 kilometres (1.9 nmi) off the coast from the village of Na'ameh. The search for survivors was carried out by the Lebanese Army, using Sikorsky S-61 helicopters, the Lebanese Navy and UNIFIL troops. The U.S. military, in response to a request from the Lebanese government, sent the guided missile destroyer USS Ramage, a Navy P-3 aircraft, and the salvage ship USNS Grapple. The French Navy sent a Breguet Atlantic reconnaissance aircraft. UNIFIL sent three ships (among them the German minesweeper tender Mosel and the Turkish B class corvette Bozcaada) and two helicopters to the scene. Further helicopters to assist search and possibly rescue measures were sent by the Royal Air Force, and the Cyprus Police aviation unit.
On 5 February 2010, it was reported that the American vessel Odyssey Explorer was due to arrive during the next week to assist in the search for the aircraft cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. The Lebanese Army reported on 6 February 2010 that several large sections of the aircraft, believed to include the tail, had been found in 45 metres (148 ft) of water at a location 1.1 nautical miles (2.0 km) off the coast of Na'ameh. On 7 February 2010 the Lebanese Army divers were able to recover the plane's flight data recorder; which was sent to the Beirut Naval Base to be handed over to the plane crash investigation team.
All the deceased had been recovered from the sea by 23 February 2010. The recovered bodies were sent to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut for DNA extraction and identification. They were all identified by the end of February.
The Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority opened an investigation into the accident, the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) and Boeing. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman stated that terrorism had been ruled out as a cause. Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri answered accusations that the aircraft should not have taken off in such stormy weather, claiming that all operations at the airport had been carried out normally. Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport Ghazi Aridi and Lebanese Defense Minister Elias el-Murr reported that the pilot had failed to follow instructions from the control tower to correct his path and avoid the storm.
The United States also sent experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to help with the accident investigation. The NTSB team was assisted by three technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, and from Boeing.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were located on 4 February, reportedly at a sea depth of 100 metres (330 ft), and approximately 3 kilometres (1.6 nmi) from the shore of al-Na'ameh and was sent to the BEA to undergo data analysis. Four divers from the French Navy's Undersea intervention diving group were sent to the crash location. The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was recovered missing a memory storage unit. This was reported on 16 February as having been recovered and forwarded to the BEA.
Before the CVR was recovered, some aviation experts played down speculation that bad weather alone could have brought down the plane, and suggested that a technical fault may have caused an engine to catch fire.
The final report released by the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority stated that the flight crew mismanaged the aircraft's speed, altitude, and heading. The crew's flight control inputs were inconsistent and these resulted in the loss of control of the aircraft. The crew failed to abide by Crew Resource Management principles of mutual support and verbalizing deviations and this prevented any timely intervention and correction of the aircraft's flight path and maneuvers.
The airline challenged the statements as biased, firmly convinced that the aircraft experienced an onboard explosion, based on eyewitness evidence of "a fireball falling into the sea", a closed-circuit television video, and the lack of investigative information about the passengers and baggage.
The crash was dramatized in the twelfth series of the Canadian documentary Mayday (also known as Air Emergency or Air Crash Investigation). It is titled "Heading to Disaster." The episode re-creates the crash based on the Lebanese investigators' final report.
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