According to Tewolde Gebremariam, the boss of the airline, the warning and training requirements set for the 737 Max 8 may not have been sufficient.
After the crash of Lion Air off Indonesia in October, the US Civil Aviation Agency (US FAA) and Boeing “produced additional content that we incorporated into our workbooks and administered to all our pilots.But today, we think that may not have been enough, “Tewolde Gebremariam told The Associated Press in an interview with Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Airlines insists that its pilots have followed all the additional training required by Boeing and the FAA to fly the 737 Max 8.
Lynn Lunsford, spokeswoman for the FAA, declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation. On Saturday, Boeing announced the introduction of a security feature in all Max 8 and 9 (this device was until now offered as an option) and said it will pay for airline pilot training.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said earlier last week that the training was intended to help pilots master perfectly the flying of the Boeing 737 Max 8, which entered service in 2017. In a statement, he said that the pilots were also informed of an emergency directive issued by the FAA after the Lion Air accident, which killed 189 people.
Ethiopian Airlines said there is an “obvious similarity” between the Lion Air crash and that of Ethiopian Airlines, citing preliminary information from the flight data recorder.
Although the causes of accidents have not yet been determined, Lion Air’s investigators focused on an automated system designed to use information from two sensors to prevent a dangerous aerodynamic stall.
However, it is unclear whether the same flight control system played a role in the Ethiopian Airlines accident. But the regulators reveal that both aircraft had similar irregular flight paths.
Both aircraft flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate that the pilots had trouble controlling the aircraft. Shortly after taking off, the pilots of both aircraft tried unsuccessfully to return to the airport.
The New York Times reported last Wednesday that Ethiopian Airlines pilots have never been trained in a 737 Max 8 simulator.
Gebremariam, however, stated that “it would not have made any difference” because the 737 Max simulator is not designed to mimic the flight control software problems of the new jet. He still has not said if the pilots had trained in a simulator.
Boeing’s planned software update for the Max must “solve the problem 100 percent before the plane goes back into the air,” he said, noting that the airline has not taken any action. decision regarding the cancellation or not of 737 Max 8 orders.
Ethiopian Airlines is widely regarded as the safest African airline. The carrier was using five 737 Max 8 aircraft and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.