Ethiopian Airlines Rejects Claims Pilot Wasn’t Trained on Flight Simulator

Boeing-737-Max8-SimulatorMarch 21, 2019 ( -- Following the Ethiopian Airline plane crash that killed all 157 people on board, there are reports from Reuters and New York Times claiming that the captain of the ill-fated jet was untrained on the model’s simulator. However, Ethiopian Airlines has strongly denied that this is the case, calling the latest news reports inaccurate, irresponsible and misleading, meant to divert attention away from the global grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8. The full press release sent by Ethiopian Airlines can be found at the end of this report.

Ethiopian Airlines, the leading airline in the continent surpassed its peers when it became the first carrier to purchase a B-737 MAX 8 simulator to prepare its pilots to fly the B-737 airplane, but the captain of flight 302 was not trained on it, according to Reuters and NY Times reports.

According to the report by Reuters, a colleague of Captain Yared Getachew, the 29-year-old pilot who was operating the jet revealed he was due for a refresher course at the end of March, two months after the national carrier received its first flight simulator from the distributor. Ethiopian Airlines strongly denies such assertion.

The March 10 tragedy, following that of another B-737 in Indonesia last year, has sparked one of the weighty investigations in aviation history. Focus has shifted to the safety of a newly included automated feature and whether pilots discern it.

The model which came into the market two years ago has an automated system called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). It prevents the loss of lift that can lead to an aerodynamic stall, forcing the plane down in an uncontrolled manner.

According to these reports, the pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the manufacturer failed to send the manuals on MCAS. He further stated they’d learned about the MCAS from the media, the reports claim.

The New York Times reported that Ethiopian Airlines had the simulator up and running by January, two months before the fatal crash. Boeing has since come out saying experienced 737 pilots required very minimal training to fly the MAX 8 model. This assertion is now being questioned by the pilots and airline regulators.

The late Captain Yared was a seasoned pilot and had clocked 8,000 flight hours including on the 737, according to Ethiopian Airlines.

In a tweet, Ethiopian Airlines said its pilots completed training as recommended by Boeing and were approved by the FAA on the differences between 737 MAX and the previous 737 NG models.

They were also trained on the emergency procedures after the Indonesia incident. It further said the current 737 MAX simulator was not designed to imitate the MCAS problems.

“We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of accident investigation,” read the tweet.

It’s unknown whether the co-pilot on flight 302 received training on the B-737 MAX simulator, or whether the carrier used the simulator for the refresher courses its pilots take every six months, or for training new pilots only.

Ethiopian Airlines was among the few carriers using the new simulator for the B-737 MAX 8 jet, few months after the Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia.

According to the New York Times, many pilots learned about B-737’s recent features on an iPad. Many were uninformed of the existence of the MCAS.

Investigations have since determined there’s a similarity between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline accidents. In both instances, the planes oscillated up and downwards before nose diving and crashing.

In the Lion Air investigations, authorities are focusing on the automated system. It’s suspected the MCAS pushed the plane’s nose down due to an inaccurate sensor. Even if the pilots of the two B-737’s trained on the simulator, it’s not yet clear if such measures would have involved tactics to counter the problems they suffered.

According to these reports, after the Indonesia crash, Ethiopian shared with its pilots instructions from the manufacturer on how to confront the issues Lion Air pilots encountered.

In November, Boeing issued a bulletin stating the recent emergency procedures in the earlier models of the 737 should have corrected the faults experienced in the MAX 8 disaster in Indonesia. That’s not the case as Boeing is under scrutiny for its aircraft’s safety features again.

According to the cockpit voice recording, the pilots of the Lion Air flight appeared not to comprehend why the jet was nose-diving and how to correct the error. One was heard praying while the other flicked through the planes’ manual.

By December last year, CAE Inc., a Canadian based firm that manufactures MAX simulators, had delivered only four simulators to different airlines. It’s, therefore, difficult for carriers to effectively train their pilots when they don’t have adequate resources, according to these reports.

As investigations continue, a possible error in the MCAS system is being investigated. However, experts caution against drawing conclusions at this preliminary stage because the eventual outcome of the investigation may prove otherwise.

Following the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max 8 airplanes, Boeing is under scrutiny by aviation regulators worldwide. Its stock has fallen markedly since the latest accident.

Here follows the statement issued by Ethiopian Airlines strongly denying the news reports about pilot training.

"Ethiopian Airlines strongly refutes all the baseless and factually incorrect allegations written in the Washington Post dated March 21, 2019. All the allegations in the article are false defamations with out any evidence, collected from unknown and unreliable sources and meant to divert attention from the global grounding of the B-737 MAX airplanes. Ethiopian airlines operates with one of the highest global standards of quality and safety performances certified by all National, Regional and International regulators like the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, the FAA, EASA, IOSA and ICAO and other National regulatory authorities. Ethiopian is one of the leading global airlines with modern fleet, high standards of infrastructure, highly automated with the latest ICT (information and communication technology) and one of the most modern operating systems. The airline has seven full flight simulators (Q-400, B-737NG, B-737 MAX, B-767, B-787, B-777 and A-350) to train its pilots and other airlines pilots. It has one of the largest and most modern Aviation Academy with training devices and technologies among the very few in the world. The Airline has invested more than half a Billion dollars in infrastructure only in the last 5 years which is not common in a typical airline. Although the cause of the accident is yet to be known by the international investigation in progress, the entire world knows all B-737 MAX airplanes have been grounded since the tragic accident of ET 302/10 March. About 380 B-737 MAX airplanes are grounded all over the world including in the USA. All concerned regulators, Safety oversight authorities and other law enforcement agencies are conducting serious investigation on the design and certification of the B-737 MAX airplanes and we are waiting patiently for the result of these investigations. This being the fact, the subject article is trying to divert the main focus of the world to unrelated and factually incorrect allegations. We hereby demand the Washington Post to remove the article, apologize and correct the facts."

By Solomon O. for Ezega News



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