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Should Ethiopian Airlines Feel Nervous about Boeing?

US aviation manufacturing giant Boeing is again facing questions over the safety of its aircraft after one of its 737 Max 9 planes operated by Alaska Airlines lost part of its fuselage mid-flight during a journey from Portland to Ontario last week, in a development that could have implications for Ethiopian Airlines, one of Boeing’s most significant partners in Africa. In November last year, Ethiopian Airlines announced it had agreed to order eleven 787 Dreamliner and twenty 737 MAX planes from Boeing, with the option of purchasing more of both models at a later date, in what is the largest-ever purchase of Boeing planes from an airline in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines already operates the largest Dreamliner fleet in Africa. At the time, Ethiopian Airlines was keen to emphasise the closeness of its relationship with Boeing, which had come under scrutiny following the Flight 302 disaster in March 2019, Ethiopia’s deadliest aircraft accident. When approached by African Business, Boeing pointed out that Ethiopian Airlines does not use the 737 Max 9 model but referred to commitments made by its CEO Dave Calhoun. He said that Boeing would take “all actions that are required to ensure every next airplane that moves into the sky is in fact safe and that this event can never happen again.