- Ethiopian Airlines is standing by Boeing after its fatal 737 Max 8 crash earlier this month.
- The New York Times reported on Sunday that the company rushed production of the plane – now grounded around the world – to compete with Airbus.
- Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO said its pilots had all the proper training for the updated plane model.
As investigators work to piece together why two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes plunged to the earth shortly after takeoff, Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO is standing by the American plane maker.
In a lengthy statement Monday, Tewolde GebreMariam said that the carrier’s pilots had all the proper training necessary for the aircraft in question and that it was working with investigators to figure out what went wrong with Flight 302, its plane that crashed near the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on March 10.
“Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing,” he said. “Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future.”
GebreMariam also disputed some news reports that Ethiopian’s pilots hadn’t been properly trained on the updated 737 Max planes.
“After the Lion Air accident in October, our pilots who fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 were fully trained on the service bulletin issued by Boeing and the Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued by the USA FAA,” he said. “Contrary to some media reports, our pilots who fly the new model were trained on all appropriate simulators.”
The causes of the two crashes are unclear, but investigators are focused on a new software feature, known as MCAS, that is designed to point a plane’s nose downward if it detects too steep of an incline that might induce a stall. Investigators have suggested that faulty sensor readings might have incorrectly triggered MCAS on the two flights.
In the wake of the two crashes – which have caused travel authorities around the world to ground 737 Max planes – Boeing announced a software update for MCAS and indicated that a previously optional safety feature would come standard on new planes. Called a “disagree light,” the feature is designed to alert pilots to a faulty sensor reading that might incorrectly trigger MCAS.
The New York Times also reported on Sunday that Boeing rushed to develop the 737 Max to compete with Airbus’ A320neo plane.
Flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, from the Ethiopian crash have been sent to Europe for analysis, and investigators will look for more clues as to why the plane went down shortly after takeoff. GebreMariam, meanwhile, expressed worry about the damage the crash might do to the country’s reputation.
“As a state-owned airline and the flagship carrier for our nation, we carry the torch for the Ethiopian brand around the world,” he said. “In a nation that sometimes is saddled with negative stereotypes, accidents like this affect our sense of pride.”
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