Pilot Yared Getachew and first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur were part of the eight crew members on board of flight ET302. Mr Getachew was hailed as having an “excellent flying record”, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said in a press conference today. In a statement released by the airline it read: “A senior captain named Yared Getachew with a cumulative flight hour of more than 8000 and with a commendable performance was commanding the flight along with first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur who had a fight hour of 200.”
The tragic flight took off from Addis Ababa at 8.38am local time and crashed six minutes later after disappearing off the radar.
The CEO of the airline said during a press conference the pilot reported difficulties after take off and asked to turn back to the airport – and he was given the clearance to.
The plane was also reported to have “had no known technical problems”.
It is still unclear what caused the airline to crash and a spokesperson from Ethiopian Airlines confirmed an investigation was underway.
The statement read: “It is too early to speculate the cause of the accident and further investigation will be carried out to find out the cause of the accident in collaboration with all stakeholders including the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and other international entities to maintain the international standard and information will be provided once the cause is identified.”
Officials confirmed all 149 passengers and eight crew were killed after the Boeing 737 MAX smashed into a field about 60 kilometres South-east of the airport.
At Nairobi airport, many relatives of passengers are waiting for information from authorities.
Robert Mutanda, 46, was waiting for his brother-in-law coming from Canada.
He told Reuters more than three hours after the flight was lost: “No, we haven’t seen anyone from the airline or the airport.
“Nobody has told us anything, we are just standing here hoping for the best.”
The Kenyan Transport Secretary James Macharia confirmed 18 of the killed passengers were Canadians during a press conference today.
He added there were a total of 35 different nationalities including: 32 Kenyans, seven French, eight Chinese, Five Dutch, Six Egyptians, nine Ethiopians, seven French, four Indians, Four Italians, four Slovakians and eight Americans.
Wendy Otieno was waiting for her mum and kept calling her phone and weeping.
She said: “We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone.”
The aeroplane made its first flight four months ago and began flying under the commercial airline in November 2018.