Ethiopian CEO says the airline still 'believes in Boeing' after 737 Max crash

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam holds a press briefing at the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Associated Press

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam holds a press briefing at the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019.

  • Ethiopian Airlines is standing by Boeing after its fatal 737 Max crash earlier this month.
  • The New York Times reported on Sunday that the company rushed production of the plane - now grounded around the world - to compete with Airbus.
  • Ethiopian Airlines' CEO said its pilots had all the proper training for the updated plane model.

As investigators work to piece together why two Boeing 737 Max planes plunged to the earth shortly after takeoff, Ethiopian Airlines' CEO is standing by the American plane maker.

In a lengthy statement Monday, Tewolde GebreMariam said the carrier's pilots had all the proper training necessary for the aircraft in question, and that it's working with investigators to figure out what went wrong with flight 302.
"Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing,"he said. "Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future."

Read more: American Airlines has canceled another 2,700 flights as Boeing 737 Max planes remain grounded

GebreMariam also refuted some news reports that Ethiopian's pilots hadn't been properly trained on the updated 737 Max planes.

"After the Lion Air accident in October, our pilots who fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 were fully trained on the service bulletin issued by Boeing and the Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued by the USA FAA," he said. "Contrary to some media reports, our pilots who fly the new model were trained on all appropriate simulators."

In the wake of the two crashes - which also left 737 Max planes grounded in nearly all of the world's countries - Boeing also began distributing a safety feature on the plane for free that had previously been a purchased add-on. Called a "disagree light," the feature is designed to alert pilots to any potential malfunction in the MCAS system, which investigators say is likely a cause in both crashes. The MCAS software works to point a plane's nose downward if it detects too steep of an incline that might induce a stall.The New York Times also reported on Sunday that Boeing rushed to develop the 737 Max in order to compete with Airbus' A320neo plane.

Flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, from the Ethiopian crash have been sent to Europe for analysis, and investigators will look for more clues as to why the plane went down shortly after takeoff. GebreMariam, meanwhile, hopes the incident will not add to negative connotations the country sometimes carries.

"As a state-owned airline and the flagship carrier for our nation, we carry the torch for the Ethiopian brand around the world," he said. "In a nation that sometimes is saddled with negative stereotypes, accidents like this affect our sense of pride."

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