Lebanon releases progress report on fatal Ethiopian Boeing 737-800 accident investigation

Flight ET409 flight profile

The Lebanese Ministry of Public Works & Transport released their investigation progress report regarding the January 2010 fatal accident involving a Ethiopian Flight 409 off the coast of Beirut.

On January 25, 2010 a Boeing 737-8AS(WL) passenger jet, registered ET-ANB, was destroyed in an accident 6 km southwest off Beirut International Airport (BEY), Lebanon. All 82 passengers and eight crew members were killed. The airplane operated on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET409 from Beirut International Airport (BEY) to Addis Ababa-Bole Airport (ADD).

The progress report indicated that IMC prevailed for the flight, and the flight was on an instrument flight plan. It was night in dark lighting conditions with reported isolated cumulonimbus clouds and thunderstorms in the area.
Flight ET409 was initially cleared by ATC on a LATEB 1 D Standard Instrument Departure (SID) from runway 21. Just before take-off, ATC changed the clearance to an “immediate right turn direct Chekka”.
The Boeing 737 took off from runway 21 at 02:36. After take-off ATC instructed ET409 to turn right on a heading of 315° and change frequencies and contact Beirut Control. ET409 acknowledged the clearance and continued a right turn. ATC instructed ET409 to turn left heading 270°, which was acknowledged. The flight continued the climbing left turn to heading 270° but did not maintain that heading. The aircraft continued on a southerly track. Just prior to reaching  altitude of 7700 feet, the stick shaker activated, sounding for a period of 29 seconds. Meanwhile the airplane reached an angle of attack (AOA) of 32° and began a descent to 6000 feet. When the stick shaker ceased, the aircraft began to climb again. At 02:40:56, just prior to reaching 9000 feet, the stick shaker activated again, sounding for a period of 26 seconds.

After reaching 9000 feet the aircraft made a sharp left turn and descended rapidly. The maximum registered bank angle was 118° left and the airplane reached a maximum registered speed was 407.5 knots at a G load of  4.412. The airplane disappeared from the radar screen and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea at 02:41:30.

Additional preliminary facts established by the investigators:

  • The aircraft weight and balance record was reviewed and no deficiencies or anomalies were noted.
  • No defect or deferred maintenance item was reported on the technical log after the arrival and before departure of the plane from Beirut.
  • The examination of the maintenance documents on this aircraft did not reveal any significant anomalies.
  • Based on the elements recovered up to 24 Feb, 2011 and the visual observation, no evidence of fire has been brought up.
  • The Flight Crew and Cabin Crew were licensed in accordance with the ECAA regulations.
  • The documents received by the Flight Crew prior to departure, including weather information, were in accordance with the relevant requirements.
  • The Captain had a total flying experience of 10,233 hours of which 188 hours on B 737-700/800.
  • The First Officer  had a total flying experience of 673 hours of which 350 hours as F/O on B 737-700/800.

The investigation is on-going.

More information:

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