Boeing signed an agreement to deliver ten next-generation 737-800 aircraft to Ethiopian Airlines just days before the crash which saw the aircraft plunge into the Mediterranean Sea minutes after take-off.

The deal was struck on 22 January when the carrier announced it was investing in additional airplanes to increase its fleet and expand its network.

Ethiopian Airlines flight 409 from Beirut to Addis Ababa plunged into the sea yesterday with 90 people on board amid heavy thunderstorms.

The aircraft, powered by CFM56-7 engines, can seat up to 162 passengers in a two-class configuration, and can fly to a range of 3,060nm at speeds of up to Mach 0.78.

The short-to-medium-range plane uses advanced technology winglets to save on fuel, extend its range, carry more payload and reduce engine maintenance costs.

Ethiopian Airlines is an all-Boeing operator that has operated all its planes, with the exception of the 747, since the 707.