Was The Doomed Ethiopian Plane Formerly Owned by Ryanair?

The ill-fated Ethiopian Boeing 737-800 may have been previously owned by Ireland based Ryanair, a low cost airline serving mostly European destinations, according to its CEO.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, January 28, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Three days after the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, there is no news of survivors but there is plenty of information about the doomed aircraft.

According to Michael O’Leary, the Chief Executive of Ryanair – a discount airline based in Dublin, Ireland – the Boeing 737-800 may have been an eight-year-old plane previously owned by his company and later transferred to Ethiopian Airlines through a third party lessor in September 2009.

“I think they had it in maintenance, they did some work on it, between April and May. I think they leased it to Ethiopian in September, and something happened to it,” O’Leary told Reuters without identifying the third party. “We are not sure yet, but it may have been that aircraft that was involved in the accident…”

Ethiopian Airlines says the plane was leased from the American commercial and consumer finance company CIT Group, according to Reuters.

“The Irish Aviation Authority confirmed that the aircraft was a former Ryanair plane that had logged 17,750 flight hours in its seven years of service,” The Daily Mail reported. “And planespotters came forward to say they had photographed the jet at British airports between 2002 and last year.”

The news follows the plane’s crash into the Mediterranean sea minutes after taking off from Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport in the early hours of Monday, January 25, 2010. The incident happened only days after Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing announced a deal worth $767 million for 10 Next-Generation 737-800s. The company also has a pending purchase order with Airbus for 12 A350 commercial jetliners in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion at list price.

But Chief of Ryanair says buyer’s remorse would not apply to his plane: “What happened we don’t know. It’s a bit like you selling your car and 11 months later the new person driving it has a crash. It had nothing to do with us,” the Irish airline’s CEO told Reuters after a news conference in Rome.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press is quoting an army officer who says emergency workers have detected signals from the black boxes about 1,300 meters (yards) and about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the seaside airport and they will attempt to retrieve it in the coming days. The black box recording devices are key to solving the mystery behind Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409.

Cover photo courtesy of Boeing.

ET-409 Update: Thursday, February 18, 2010
(Watch Videos Below The Headlines)

Second aircraft involved in Lebanon ET409 crash (Airlines/Airport Examiner)

Crashed Ethiopian plane cockpit recorder recovered (AP)

Ethiopian Air Says Too Soon to Rule Out Sabotage in Crash Prob (BusinessWeek)

Lebanese minister rules out bomb on Ethiopian jet (AP)

Lebanon confirms 45 bodies retrieved from Ethiopian jet crash (Earth Times)

Ethiopian jet’s 2nd black box retrieved from sea (The Associated Press)

Ethiopian plane ‘exploded’ after take-off: Lebanon minister (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)


Lebanese airport safety employees near the crash
site. Credit: REUTERS

Ethiopian Airliner’s flight recorders sent to France (Daily Star – Lebanon)

Ethiopian Jetliner’s Recorders Found ( Reuters)

Main parts of crashed Ethiopian jet found off Lebanon (Reuters)

Ethiopian air crash shines light on lives of migrant workers (LATimes)

Lebanon gets relatives’ DNA in Ethiopian jet crash (AP)

Wreckage from Ethiopian plane found in Syrian waters (Earth Times)

Sub to help search for crashed Ethiopian jet (AP)

Salvage crews hunt for Ethiopian airliner black boxes (AFP)

Racism in Lebanon? Commenters Respond to Ethiopian Airline 409 Tragedy

British investigators say Ethiopian Airlines plane crash ‘similar’ to earlier disaster

Ethiopian Airlines plane makes emergency landing (AFP)

Navy sends second ship to aid Ethiopian flight salvage
(By Stars and Stripes, daily newspaper published for the U.S. military)

Ethiopian crash jet flight recorders found off Lebanon (BBC)

Army says black boxes located from Ethiopian crash (The Associated Press)

The Latest Press Release from Ethiopian Airlines

Terrorism cannot be ruled out in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 (Canada Free Press)

Ethiopian plane black box found, toll reaches 32 (Indo Asian News Service)

Flight ET409 Exposes Lebanon’s Racist Underbelly (Huffington Post)

Ethiopian Air #409 Crashes near Beirut — The Coverage So Far

Boats scour ocean for Beirut crash black boxes (AP)

Was The Doomed Ethiopian Plane Formerly Owned by Ryanair?

The United States Extends Its Deepest Sympathies

Ethiopian Airlines plane veered off course before sea crash

Ethiopian Airlines CEO on search for plane’s black box

Search widened for victims of Ethiopian jet crash

Names of Passengers Aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409

White House saddened by deaths in Lebanon crash

Storms or sabotage? The mystery of Flight 409

Video: 90 perish in Ethiopian jetliner crash (ntvkenya)

Video: Ethiopian Airlines Crashes into the Mediterranean (CBS)

Video: Ethiopian Plane Crashes Off Lebanon (AP)

Raw Video: Lebanon Plane Crashes After Takeoff (AP)

Ethiopian Airliner Crashes Near Beirut

Video: History of Ethiopian Airlines crashes

Raw Video From The Ethiopian Airlines Crash Site Off Beirut:

10 Responses to “Was The Doomed Ethiopian Plane Formerly Owned by Ryanair?”


  1. 1 Arif Jan 27th, 2010 at 6:21 am

    What? Does Ethiopian Airlines buy second-hand planes? I am very surprised. I always thought ET bought brand new planes from Boeing. Is it not what the Boeing official was trumpeting last week when his company signed a deal with ETH for $700 million for 10 brand new 737 jets? Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with leasing planes (many companies in the world do it, including here in the U.S.), but buying from this guy Michael O’Leary is a mistake. Plus, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that used planes are more prone to accidents. But Mr. O’Leary is special. He is a brilliant but ruthless businessman, one of the richest in his country, by leasing planes and using the hell out of them until they wear and tear and then turning around and selling it to third world customers. Because he does not really give a hoot what happens. His only concern is the bottom-line for his rather unethical business practices. He is also known to exaggerate stories for publicity purposes, that’s why I think he is bragging about this one as well. If it was not for the confirmation from The Irish Aviation Authority, I would take what O’Leary is up to with grain of salt. But nonetheless, he is not to blame for this accident, it is the fools that bought the plane to blame. Having said that, however, what a shame to hear the Lebanese transportation minster trying to blame the Ethiopian pilot with 20 years of experience for the crash without reviewing the black box and without completing the investigation. I think they are covering up something. My instincts tell me that the plane was blown up. I hope I am wrong!

  2. 2 Hannibal Jan 27th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Michael O’Leary of Ryanair is notorious and infamous in the airlines industry.

    Any way here is what I (learned) about him from (wikipedia): “O’Leary has a reputation for loose talk in the airline industry and among its regulators. Many press articles have often described him as arrogant, and prone to making comments which he later undercuts. He has been extravagantly outspoken in his public statements, sometimes resorting to personal attacks and foul language. His abrasive management style, ruthless pursuit of cost-cutting and his explicitly hostile attitude towards corporate competitors, airport authorities, governments, unions and customers has become a hallmark. He was reported to have been aggressive and hostile in dealings with a woman who was awarded free flights for life in 1988. He recently was forced to retract a claim that Ryanair had cut emissions of carbon dioxide by half over the past five years. O’Leary has been reported to have impersonated a journalist in an attempt to find information passed on to a newspaper following a safety incident on a Ryanair flight. One advantage of this controversial approach is the huge free publicity it generates: the comments are often made in the context of a new route launch, or special offer. News programmes with high ratings report these often memorable and controversial statements.”

    I have read some books dealing with him. The statement mentioned above is some what accurate. Thus, even though his motive is not clear in this instance, I think we should not give much weight to what he said.

  3. 3 Jara Jan 27th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    My god. This immense tragedy should serve as a wake up call for the ET family. Please for the sake of safety, immediately stop the practice of leasing planes. Just stick with with new planes from Boeing going forward please. In regards to the crash, I agree 100% with the above comment that the plane was probably brought down by sabotage, which the Lebanese officials were quick to dismiss within minutes of the accident without an investigation. That makes me suspicious too. Why would an experienced jet pilot suddenly veer off the the opposite direction than what was communicated by flight control? What are the reasons that caused him to do that? Was there a struggle in the cockpit? Were there hijackers? Were there nut jobs on the plane like the Nigerien bomber? How do we know that they did not use our plane as a successful test of underwear bombing? After all, we are poor therefore an easy target for dress rehearsal of a much bigger evil plans against the west. How do you explain “the ball of fire” in the sky? These are pertinent questions that must be answered. The secret answer lies inside the black box.

  4. 4 Saba Jan 27th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    One way or another the truth will come out. They said the Black Box was found. Did any body have any info. on that? I have the same questions like Jara, how on earth 20 years experienced pilot fly the opposite direction, unless some thing happened that forced him to do that? We all have a lot in our mind, but lets wait till they find that black box. We’ll continue to fly the safest Airline in Africa, Ethiopian.

    God bless the victims’ families and Ethiopian crew.

  5. 5 elmo Jan 27th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Story just gets stranger and stranger….

    ‘Sabotage’ Not Ruled Out Altogether in Ethiopian Plane Crash
    By Sean Osborne Tuesday, January 26, 2010
    The Lebanese French-language newspaper L’Orient Le Jour reports today that there were eyewitnesses to the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409. These eyewitnesses describe an explosion onboard the aircraft. Following the explosion the witnesses describe the aircraft breaking apart into four pieces which then transformed into a fireball that plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. The same report also speaks to strong indications that one passenger associated with the terrorist group Hezbollah was on board the aircraft: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/19391

  6. 6 Meron Haile Feb 2nd, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I wonder why ET still insist to buy 737 as it has many faulty records else where. If you look at the engine size I doubt weather it adopts to the harsh climatic conditions in long routes. They have to buy big 767 that can with stand the ever changing climatic condtion such as sudden turbulance. It is better to avoid flying in stromy wheather even if you have to delay schedule, b/c human life is more worthy than short-term profit.

    As to ET409 air crush i stongly look forward to hear the results of the balck box.

  1. 1 Ethiopian Plane Black Box Found, Toll Reaches 32 at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jan 27th, 2010 at 4:16 am
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