Ethiopian Airlines denies reports that plane crash findings are due this week

Boeing grounded Max 8 planes after the deaths of 157 people

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 sits grounded at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. AP
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 sits grounded at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. AP

Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday that it denied comments attributed to its Group chief executive that a preliminary version of the report on what caused Flight 302 to crash would be released late this week.

Previous reports quoted both Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam and a spokesperson for Ethiopia's transport ministry saying a preliminary report on the plane crash that killed 157 on March 10 will be made public soon.

Mr Tewolde told Reuters on Monday he expected the preliminary release of a report into the crash of its Boeing 737 800 MAX "maybe this week or next week".

But in a statement on Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines said the "Group CEO did not say anything about the time the investigation report will be released".

The airline asked "all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements".

The reporting by Reuters was supported by comments from an Ethiopian transport ministry spokesperson, who also said the release was imminent.

The final report may take months to complete but a preliminary report may be released "anytime soon," the spokesman for Ethiopia's transport ministry told the Associated Press.

"A date has not been set but it will be released later this week," Mussie Yiheyis told the Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that a high ranking government official will announce the preliminary result.

"The US National Transportation Safety Board, France's BEA and an Ethiopian Transport Ministry department have been conducting the investigation," he said. "It has been conducted as per International Civil Aviation Organization rules and regulations."

On Monday, Mr Tewolde also said the pilots who flew the plane that crashed on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, had trained on "all appropriate simulators," rejecting reports that they had not been adequately prepared to handle the new aircraft.

There is speculation that the software could have contributed to the crash as well as to the crash of another Boeing 737 Max 8, a Lion Air flight in Indonesia in October.

Regulators say both planes had similar erratic flight paths shortly after take-off, an important part of their decision to ground the roughly 370 Max 8 planes around the world.

The Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman explained that Ethiopia has led the investigation into the crash with assistance from US and French investigators as part of the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa's best-managed airline, had been using five of the Max 8 planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more. The airline has not made a decision on whether or not to cancel that order.

Boeing is updating the plane's anti-stall software and has invited more than 200 pilots, technical experts and regulators to its factory in Renton, Washington, for a briefing.

Updated: March 28, 2019 03:34 AM


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