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25 January 2010

Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 Crashes near Beirut Killing Many on Board

25 January 2009; Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 (ET-ANB); Flight 409; near Beirut, Lebanon
The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Beirut, Lebanon to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff.

There were 82 passengers and eight crew members on board, all of whom were killed in the crash. The accident took place at about 2:30 in the morning local time and during heavy rain.

A Lebanese government official listed the nationalities of the passengers as 51 Lebanese, 23 Ethiopians, two Britons, and one each from Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Canada, Russia, and France. Among the passengers was the wife of the French ambassador in Beirut.

According to, the accident aircraft (ET-ANB) first flew in 2002 and was previously operated by Ryanair. The aircraft was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in September 2009.

BBC Report on Crash Aftermath
BBC reporter Uduak Amimo interview on the Focus on Africa program about what the mood was like in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital the day of the crash.

Ethiopian Airlines Crash History
This is the third crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet airliner that has resulted in the death of at least one passenger. The first was a September 1988 bird strike event involving a 737-200, and the most recent was a ditching of a 767-200 during a hijacking in 1996.

Ethiopian Airlines Fleet
According to the Ethiopian Airlines web site the airline has an operating fleet of 37 aircraft, including three 737-800s. AeroTransport Data Bank has additional fleet details, including average age by model. The airline has 45 aircraft on order, including 10 737-800s, 10 787s, and five 777-200s.

Previous 737-800 Crashes
This is the seventh crash involving a 737-800. The first was a September 2006 midair collision involving a Gol Linhas Aéreas 737-800 in Brazil that killed all six crew members and 148 passengers, and the most recent was the non-fatal runway overrun last month involving an American Airlines 737-800 in Jamaica. Three of the previous six crashes involved passenger fatalities.
  • 29 September 2006; Gol Linhas Aéreas 737-800; Flight 1907; near Peixoto de Azevedo, Brazil: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Manaus to Brasilia when it had a midair collision in the area of São Félix do Xingu with an Embraer ERJ135 Legacy 600 executive jet operated by ExcelAire. The ExcelAire Legacy 600 jet had been on a flight from São José dos Campos to Manaus. After the collision, which damaged the left wing, left stabilizer, and left elevator of the executive jet, the crew of the damaged ExcelAire aircraft was able to land at a nearby military airfield at Cachimbo, Brazil. The 737 subsequently experienced an inflight breakup and crashed about 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of the Peixoto de Azevedo municipality. The Legacy 600 was on the first leg of a delivery flight to the US The 737 aircraft was also relatively new, having come into service with the airline less than three weeks before the crash. All six crew members and 148 passengers on the 737 were killed. The two crew members and five passengers on the Legacy 600 were not injured.

  • 5 May 2007; Kenya Airways 737-800; Flight 507; near Douala, Cameroon: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Douala, Cameroon to Nairobi, Kenya. The aircraft crashed into a swampy area near the airport less than one minute after takeoff. The aircraft departed just after midnight local time and the aircraft sent at least one communication to the control tower prior to the crash. All nine crew members and 105 passengers were killed.

  • 20 August 2007; China Airlines 737-800; Flight 120; Naha, Japan: Shortly after landing at Naha on the island of Okinawa, the left engine caught fire and the crew initiated an emergency evacuation. Although the aircraft was destroyed by fire, all 157 passengers (including two toddlers) and eight crew members survived.

  • 10 November 2008; Ryanair 737-800; Flight 4102; Rome, Italy: The aircraft, on a scheduled international flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Rome, Italy encountered a flock of birds during approach to Rome, sustaining damage to both engines, the wings, and the nose. The crew was able to land on the runway, but aircraft had a collapsed landing gear and serious damage to the rear of the fuselage. All six crew members, and 166 passengers survived.

  • 25 February 2009; Turkish Airlines 737-800; Flight 1951; Amsterdam, Netherlands: The aircraft, on a scheduled international flight from Istanbul, Turkey, to Amsterdam, Netherlands crashed in a field about a mile (1.6 km) short of the runway. Three crew members, including both pilots, were killed, as were at least six others among the 134 passengers and crew members.

  • 22 December 2009; American Airlines 737-800 (N977AN); Flight 331; Kingston, Jamaica: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Miami, FL to Kingston, Jamaica. The aircraft landed during a rainstorm, and was unable to stop on the runway. After departing the runway, the aircraft went beyond the airport fence, and crossed a road before coming to rest on a beach. The landing gear collapsed, both engines separated from the wings, and there were two major breaks in the fuselage, but all 148 passengers and six crew members survived. The landing was carried out with a slight tail wind. will provide updates as information becomes available.

More information on the Ethiopian Airlines Crash
American Airlines 737-800 crash in December 2009
Ethiopian Airlines fatal plane crashes
Fatal 737 plane crashes
Ethiopian Airlines announces order for 10 737-800 aircraft
Fatal airliner crash rates by model

Video from Associated Press

Five Lowest Fatal Plane Crash Rates by Model
A 25 September 2009 entry on the News described the September 2009 update to following listing of fatal plane crash rates by model. The video and audio podcast below discusses the aircraft models with the lowest rates. After the Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 fatal crash, the revised estimate of fatal crash rates would change the order of aircraft. The current generation of the 737, which includes the 737-800, would drop from number two to number three, and the A320 series would go from number three to number two. For more details, visit's Fatal Plane Crash Rates for Selected Airliner Models page

Video and Audio Podcast Links (2:57)

Audio: MP3 | VideoiPod/MP4 | WMV | YouTube

ET-ANB Photo: Antony J. Best

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