Ethiopian Airlines pushed back on Tuesday following media accounts suggesting that a preliminary report on the cause of the March 10 crash of Flight ET302 was expected by the end of the month.
Some reports quoted airline CEO Tewolde Gebremariam saying that the findings were expected in the next week or so. Ethiopian Airlines denies the CEO made the statement, as investigators from Ethiopia, France and the United States continue their cooperative and painstaking effort to determine the cause.
“We want to make clear to the world that we have no mandate to comment on the investigation,” the airline said. “We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of the accident investigation. International regulations require all stakeholders to wait patiently for the result of the investigation.”
There’s much anticipation of the results on why ET302 crashed about six minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The families of the 157 victims want to know why pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX8 flight struggled before the fatal loss of the flight – one that, according to initial evidence, shows strong similarities with the October 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia.
There’s also much at stake for Boeing, as MAX series planes all over the world remain grounded amid questions about the safety and expense of how Boeing designed its software systems, and whether pilots were properly trained. The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had the initial version of Boeing’s software fix for the planes seven weeks before the ET302 crash but it was not yet approved.
The Ethiopian Airlines statement Tuesday marked the third time in a week that the company took exception to media accounts about the crash. A March 22 statement targeted “baseless allegations” from the Washington Post about safety, training and the corporate culture at the airlines.
“All the allegations in the article are false defamations without any evidence, collected from unknown and unreliable sources and meant to divert attention from the global grounding of the B-737 MAX airplanes,” the airlines said.
Ethiopian Airlines also refuted the facts of a New York Times report the previous day, which cited sources who claimed the airline had a MAX8 simulator but ET302 pilot Yared Getachew had not received training.
All media releases from the airline about the ET302 crash are available at this link.
A March 17 report from Seattle Times offers an in-depth look at the Boeing MAX series and its troubling history.