Ethiopian Airlines: Pilots Not at Fault for 737 MAX Crash

Apr 4, 2019

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Ethiopian Airlines released an official statement on Thursday declaring the pilots of Flight 302, which crashed shortly after takeoff on March 10 killing all on board, were not at fault, based on preliminary findings in an unpublished report prepared by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority. The crash involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 ultimately led to the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet worldwide.

The crashes, in which a 737 MAX software system designed to prevent stalls but possibly confusing the pilots may have played a part, sparked suspicions that the US Federal Aviation Administration may have been too lax in its certification of Boeing’s latest single-aisle plane.

The statement from Ethiopian Airlines said its pilots “followed Boeing’s recommended and FAA’s approved emergency procedures to handle the most difficult emergency situation created on the airplane.” While the investigation into the accident is ongoing, and the Ethiopian authorities made their report based on preliminary findings, the statement from the airline puts Boeing and the FAA more firmly on the spot. 

Ethiopian also took another chance to reiterate that its pilots are highly trained and the airline is a world-class operation. CEO Tewolde GebreMariam took the opportunity in the company’s statement to say that its training academy is “one of the largest and most modern in the world equipped with state of the art and latest training technologies.”

On its website, the FAA said the ECAA’s investigation remains ongoing, with the participation of the FAA and the NTSB.

Meanwhile, a US pilot has come forward saying that before the Lion Air crash of a 737 MAX in October, he was “uncomfortable with the level of training he had received before he was scheduled to fly the Boeing 737 MAX for the first time,” Quartz reported. The pilot requested simulator training and was denied on account that the carrier did not have MAX simulator capabilities. A later request from the pilot to fly with an instructor for the first time resulted in the pilot being pulled off the trip instead. The pilot did not reveal their identity or the airline’s name for fear of repercussions. Only three US airlines — Southwest, American and United — fly the MAX.

While lawsuits are expected to be filed on Thursday by families of the victims of the Ethiopian crash, it is unlikely that the FAA will be sued for the 737 MAX.

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Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

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