Ethiopian Airlines pilots trained on differences in Boeing 737 Max and previous model, carrier says

Statement follows media reports that captain of doomed flight 302 was untrained on Max simulator

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 17:  Family members of Captain Yared Getecho mourn in front of his coffin during a memorial service for the Ethiopian passangers and crew who perished in the Ethiopian Airways ET302 crash. All 157 passengers and crew perished after the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight came down six minutes after taking off from Bole Airport. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
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Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday its pilots had completed training on differences between the 737 Max and the earlier model, following media reports that the captain of its doomed flight was untrained on the Max simulator.

The carriers' pilots have completed the Boeing-recommended and US regulator-approved training in the differences between the 737 Max and its predecessor 737 NG, Ethiopian Airlines said on its official Twitter account.

The pilots were also briefed on the emergency airworthiness directive following the crash of Indonesia's Lion Air jet, which was "well-incorporated" in pilots training manuals and operational manuals.

"We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of accident investigation," Ethiopian Airlines said.

The statement came after The New York Times on Wednesday reported that while Ethiopian Airlines was one of the first carriers to install a simulator to teach pilots how to fly the new Boeing 737 Max 8, the captain of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that crashed on March 10 had never trained on the Max simulator, citing people close to the airlines' operations.

It was unclear if the co-pilot on flight 302  had trained on the Max 8 simulator, the newspaper said. It was also unclear if the airline had used the simulator for refresher courses it requires pilots to take every six months, or only to train new pilots.

In its tweet, Ethiopian Air expressed "disappointment" in the "wrong reporting" by the newspaper.

Reuters on Thursday also reported that the captain did not practise on a new simulator for Boeing's 737 MAX 8 before he died in the crash with 157 others, citing a pilot colleague. Captain Yared Getachew, 29, was due for refresher training at the end of March, his colleague told Reuters, two months after Ethiopian Airlines had received one of the first such simulators being distributed.

The Ethiopian Air disaster, following the crash in Indonesia in October of the same Max 8 jet model, has put into motion a wide-ranging inquiry focused on the safety of a new automated system and whether pilots sufficiently understood it.

Even if both pilots on Ethiopian Air flight 302 had trained on the simulator, it is unclear if such preparation would have included maneuvers to deal with the kinds of problems they may have faced, the newspaper said.

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