'You basically put a student pilot in there': The co-pilot of crashed Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 had just 200 hours of flight experience

Ethiopian airlinesYASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The cause for the deadly crash remains unknown and under investigation.
  • According to Ethiopian Airlines, the co-pilot on Flight 302 had 200 hours of flying experience.
  • Two aviation experts told Business Insider that is considered remarkably little experience.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The cause for the deadly crash remains unknown and under investigation.

Its captain was Yared Getachew, who had more than 8,000 hours of flying experience, according to Ethiopian Airlines. In the co-pilot seat was someone with considerably less experience - Ahmed Nur Mohammod, with just 200 hours of experience.

Read more: The family of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 captain speaks out after crash that killed 157 people

Ethiopian Airlines has "a tremendous safety record," aviation consultant Kit Darby told Business Insider.

The airline has passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit, aced all but one measure on the ICAO Country Audit, and is also certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union to service those regions.

Still, 200 hours of flying experience is far below the requirement to co-pilot a plane in countries including the US. In 2013, the FAA upped its co-pilot (also called first officer) qualification requirement to 1,500 hours from 250 hours, while European airlines often require at least 500 hours.

And having just 200 hours of experience is especially cumbersome when flying a massive jet like the Boeing 737 Max 8, which was the plane involved in the March 10 crash, said Ross Aimer, CEO of the airline consulting and legal firm Aero Consulting Experts.

Aimer said the dearth of experience can be "a menace in the cockpit."

Read more: 'I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot': Trump says airplanes are becoming 'too complex to fly' as the UK, China, and other nations ground the Boeing 737 Max 8

"Two-hundred hours is extremely low," Aimer told Business Insider. "In an emergency, it becomes a problem. If you have a complicated airplane and you basically put a student pilot in there, that's not a good thing. Even if the guy in the left seat has so much experience, if you have so much imbalance of experience, that can be a problem."

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