Mechanical glitch forces Ethiopian jet to return to Beirut

BEIRUT (AFP) — An Ethiopian Airlines plane was forced to return to Lebanon after takeoff early on Thursday when crew noticed a door was rattling, a Beirut airport official said.

“The door had not been closed properly and some five minutes after takeoff, the pilot was able to return and land in Beirut safely and without having to signal an emergency,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Boeing 737-800 — the same model as an Ethiopian Airlines jet which crashed off the Lebanese coast in January killing all 90 on board — took off at around 4:30 am (0130 GMT) bound for Addis Ababa.

“The flight was delayed another six hours before it was cleared for takeoff,” the official said.

On January 25, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashed only minutes after taking off from Beirut in bad weather, killing all 83 passengers and seven crew.

The preliminary report based on an analysis of black box data indicates a series of errors led to the fatal crash, including the two pilots’ inexperience with the jet, a source close to the investigation told AFP last month.