‘Pilots were not to blame for 737 crash’

The pilots of the Ethiopian Airline plane that crashed in March with the loss of 157 lives were not at fault, the airline’s chief executive has said.

Criticisms of the crew’s actions were “seriously misinformed” Tewolde GebreMariam told the BBC.

He was responding to claims from a US congressman that mistakes by the pilots were a factor in the aircraft’s failure.

The Boeing 737 Max went down just six minutes after take-off in Addis Ababa.

The loss of Ethiopian flight ET302 was the second fatal accident involving a 737 Max in the space of five months. A near identical aircraft, owned by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air, went down in the sea off Jakarta in October 2018.

Preliminary reports into both accidents have suggested that they were triggered by a flight control system deploying at the wrong time, due to a faulty sensor.

Congressman Sam Graves at a hearing in Washington last month argued that “facts in the preliminary report reveal pilot error as a factor”.

He went on to suggest that “pilots trained in the US would have successfully been able to control this situation”.

Mr Tewolde told the BBC that Congressman Graves did not “have the facts in his hands”.

The preliminary report, he said, “made it abundantly clear the pilots followed the procedures properly”.

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