Shocking Ethiopian Airlines Safety Allegations

Filed Under: Ethiopian

Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer has just painted a shocking picture of the safety culture of the airline, and I’m not fully sure what to make of it.

I Have A Lot Of Respect For Ethiopian Airlines

Let me say that I’ve historically had a ton of respect for Ethiopian Airlines. Africa is a tough continent for aviation, and Ethiopian Airlines has done amazing work. They’ve built an incredible global route network, they’re profitable, they’ve been great for connecting Ethiopia to the world, and they’ve even invested in and helped other African airlines.

They’ve really done fantastic things to elevate aviation on the continent, in my opinion, and they’ve also come a long way. Just look at how airlines like South African Airways and Kenya Airways are doing, and you’ll appreciate just how far they’ve come.

Ethiopian Airlines’ Former Chief Engineer Speaks Out

The Associated Press has the story of Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer, Yonas Yeshanew, who has filed a whistleblower complaint with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other international regulators. He resigned this past summer and is currently seeking asylum in the US (he currently resides in the Seattle area with his wife and two kids).

Now, before we even get into the details, I think some context is important. Ethiopian Airlines describes Yeshanew as a disgruntled former employee and denies all of his allegations. They say that he was demoted due to a “serious weaknesses in leadership, discipline and poor integrity.” As they said in a statement:

“He is a disgruntled ex-employee who fabricated a false story about Ethiopian Airlines, partly to revenge for his demotion while working in Ethiopian, and partly to probably develop a case to secure asylum in the USA. We would like to confirm once more that all his allegations are false and baseless.”

Conversely, Yeshanew says he was never demoted, and was actually promoted several times during his 12 year career at the airline.

That’s intended neither to credit nor discredit him, but rather just to share what both sides have to say about the credibility of these statements. It’s a bit puzzling that they can’t even agree on whether he was demoted or not…

I’d also note that I feel like there have been safety whistleblower complaints at just about every major airline over the years, no matter how good their record.

Allegations Against Ethiopian Airlines

This whistleblower complaint follows the carrier’s 737 MAX crash earlier this year. In his complaint, Yeshanew accuses Ethiopian Airlines of a pattern of corruption, including fabricating documents, signing off on shoddy repairs, and even beating employees who got out of line. As he said:

“The brutal fact shall be exposed … Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing the vision of expansion, growth and profitability by compromising safety.”

According to the whistleblower’s accusations:

  • An FAA audit from three years ago found that nearly all of Ethiopian’s 82 mechanics, inspectors, and supervisors, whose files were reviewed, lacked the minimum requirements for doing their jobs
  • In emails he urged top executives to end the practice of signing off on maintenance and repair jobs that were done incompletely, incorrectly, or not at all, and that was ignored (including him asking the CEO directly)
  • He said in an interview that on the day of the 737 MAX crash, Ethiopian’s COO worried the airline would be blamed for the crash because of their maintenance issues and violations, and ordered that records of the downed plane be checked for mistakes; Yeshanew recalls the COO saying “we pray to God that this will not point to our fault”
  • The day of the crash someone logged into the computerized record-keeping system for the downed plane, noting that a “roll to the right” was also reported by pilots three months earlier

Perhaps the most shocking allegation is that Ethiopian Airlines has a jail-like detention center at Addis Ababa Airport. This is allegedly used to interrogate and intimidate employees.

Yeshanew knew of at least two employees in the past three years who were beaten up there. He was also taken there for 10 hours and questioned, because they suspected he was talking to news organizations:

“If you are in jail, it means you’ll be beaten, you will be tortured. There is no difference in the current political system of Ethiopia.”

Bottom Line

I’m not sure what to make of all of this. It goes without saying that these allegations are absolutely awful, and a serious investigation needs to be done. That being said, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to take all of the allegations as fact, given that we’re talking about one former employee who is also seeking asylum (the report notes that similar complaints have been filed in the past, and some other employees have confirmed some aspects of his claims).

Ethiopian Airlines has done great things for aviation in the region, and they’ve grown in a way that’s both sustainable and impressive, and they deserve credit for that. They’re no doubt the best in their set of competitors. But if this is true regarding safety, then some serious things need to change.

What do you make of these accusations against Ethiopian Airlines?

  1. Well, you gotta wonder about their commitment to safety. The copilot on the downed 737 had less than 300 hrs total time…

  2. Business on most of the continent is corrupt…does anyone truly believe that Ethiopian Airlines was immune to this?

  3. I would say, to give orders for records of the downed plane be checked for mistakes and saying “we pray to God that this will not point to our fault” is quite consistent with a person who just discovered one of his planes crashed. Maybe there other things, but the points highlighted above, presumably because they are important points in the allegations, are rather pointless.

  4. I’ve worked directly with the other carrier to crash a Max and I can assure you…their safety culture wasn’t very good.

    I have a former colleague who had Ethiopian as a customer and he said that they were a disorganized mess. They literally left him in reception for six hours waiting for a previously scheduled meeting.

    No, people, these countries do not have overall safety cultures the same as in the West so please stop insisting it’s “racist!” to point out obvious facts.

  5. This come to light 6 months after the 737MAX went down. Didn’t FAA and Boeing also join the investigation. If this was true they would clearly point fingers to Ethiopian Airlines long before.

    To seek asylum, part of the condition is a threat to life. So there goes the story of jail and beatings. Of course every airport probably will have a jail cell somewhere. Even cruise ships have one.

    He currently resides in the Seattle area with his wife and two kids. Guess who else is in Seattle, Boeing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So now my theory is Boeing paid this guy to paint the bad guy picture on Ethiopian promising they could lobby USA to give him asylum and job and the public will believe 737MAX wasn’t at fault. Unfortunately for Boeing, CAA took the quick initiative to ground 737MAX and the plane became the prime suspect.
    If FAA did find dirt on ET they wouldn’t be flying to US/EU at all. They got FAA rating of category 1. (The same list that Thailand got category 2)

    Too bad Boeing would never admit to anything like this, but all eyes are on you.

  6. “If you are in jail, it means you’ll be beaten, you will be tortured” – sounds like a regular United Airlines flight..

  7. Not meant to be a political comment or otherwise an adverse comment to Ben or on the importance of people speaking up when something isn’t right – but “whistleblower” is my nomination for the most overused word of 2019.

    Back to your regularly scheduled programming. I’m considering routing through Ethiopia on my way to Seychelles next year, so I’ll be watching this closely.

  8. Eskimo – asylum doesn’t require “fear of life.” It requires a reasonable fear of future persecution. Jailings and beatings rise to the level of “future persecution.”

    There’s also been widespread speculation that Boeing has been avoiding pointing fingers at Lion and Ethiopian out of fear of blaming long-term customers.

    This doesn’t erase the serious issues related to the MAX, but they’re certainly worth noting.

  9. Sounds like being kicked out of Star Alliance could be upcoming if these allegations are even partially true. Or at least they should be. I tend to look at these alliances as meaning the standards are up to snuff and you can pretty well trust the airlines that are members.

  10. I am not sure why you have such high respect for Ethiopian Airlines Ben, even after this whistleblower has come forward. They have a strong route network, sure, but like every other carrier in Africa they don’t care about safety.

    Recall that Ethiopian has its own pilot training academy, which lets them bypass standard training practices and rush pilots into the first officers seat of a 737 with less than 200 hours of flying time.

  11. @AdamW

    Business on every continent is corrupt. Africa is no exception in this regard. Let’s not forget that the entire 737 MAX debacle arose out of a culture of corruption and negligence at an American corporation with a top 25 market cap.

  12. I am just shocked — SHOCKED! — that a giant cash-producing machine in east Africa would be involved in corruption and intimidation…

  13. That smells fishy – I’m with Eskimo here. This guy is residing in Seattle and applied for asylum in the US? I’d bet 100k miles that he is in Boeing’s pocket to give them plausible deniability.

  14. Aside from what is or isn’t true, I’m curious as to the profitability. When it comes to an airline like this, is it easier for them to become profitable because they have lower expenses (FAs, crew, mechanics, customer service, etc.)?

    I’d have to imagine (and could be wrong) that their expenses are significantly less than those of an airline based in a major European country that has significantly higher cost of living (e.g., Switzerland, Germany, etc.).

    Just curious.

  15. I think the allegations are worth investigating but as of now I do not buy it. ET has a great record and I would fly them any day of the week. At least I can say none of their maintenance have actively tried to cause disrepair to an aircraft.

    @Sam many airlines have their own flight academies and the ICAO hours are followed. I personally know someone who has been flying the Q400 for some years for another airline on the continent and went regularly for training to ADD. She has now moved to ET to fly the Q400 with them in hopes of moving up but they are not just going to stick her in a 737 on day 1.

  16. I am really confused as to the speculation that this guy is in Boeing’s pocket. It isn’t like a whistleblower case is going to put the Max fleet back in the air. Even if Ethiopian has all the safety issues that the allegations accuse them of, the 737 Max would still be a plane with a safety flaw that keeps it from being airworthy.

    Ethiopian flies both the 777 & 787. It makes no sense for Boeing to harbor and aid a bullsh*t whistleblower against a customer.

  17. @TravelManager of course the plane will need technical fixes as Boeing is completely responsible for this bad aircraft design. But this story will shift some blame from Boeing to Ethiopian.
    After all the public has to accept flying on the MAX once it is back in the air. Much easier if the ‘stupid’ customers think it was Ethiopian’s fault.

  18. I agree with @eskimo

    It sounds like, good play from Boeing, but not want to play hard on airline, just the right amount,
    And why seattle?
    Not saying airlines do not have safety issue but on this occasion, it is very convenient for Boeing to blame airline using employee and safety record

  19. @Eskimo

    FAA/NTSB and Boeing have been involved in the crash investigations, but they are being closely guarded/overseen by the local governments. There are reports that outside access to some basic information, like cockpit radio transcripts, has been blocked. As Ben mentioned, this whistle blower may have an axe to grind, but there are others who attest to troubling activities and safety concerns at Ethiopian.

  20. So the FAA did an audit on them three years ago and found that none of their mechanical people were qualified and let them just keep on flying? Riiiiiight!
    It is not like eithiopian is a giant us corporation that has the FAA in their pocket. If they found that everyone was not qualified, they would have grounded them immediately.

  21. This is why I can’t understand the whole 737max fiasco. The plane did thousands of test of hours, in and out of high and low altitude airports with different payloads and operated thousands of commercial flights so if the plane was so dangerous how come way more haven’t crashed and what actually made the Lion Air and Ethiopian flights crash; both airlines that now don’t have great maintenance track records. In my view, in light of this, it wasn’t necessarily the 737max itself that caused the crashes but some poor maintenance and the crashes caused the plane to be DEEPLY investigated and analysed and found other faults, such as the MCAS, which, while bad, weren’t actually related to the two crashes. And if not, what were the anomalies that made those two flights different than all the previous max flights operating the very same route?

  22. Seriously, no one knows what really happened except Ethiopian Airlines and the former employee. He might be right or as Eskimo says, he might have been bribed by Boeing to clear their set of allegations. But then do you all remember when an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked by a copilot and ended up in Geneva and the Ethiopian airlines wanted him desperately but the Swiss government denied? The flight crew on board ET302 weren’t even that experienced like the captain was 29 y/o (no, i ain’t talking bad about his age). Seriously, if you were to roster a trainee pilot who has 300 flying hours, you might want to put him in the flight deck with someone who’s senior. I mean, 737MAX was already considered dangerous pre-ET302, so you’d definitely wanna take some precautions…


  23. To those pushing the Boeing asylum conspiracy, Seattle has been a significant population center for the Ethiopian diaspora since the 1980s. In fact, only Washington D.C. has a significantly larger community, with Minneapolis usually ranked slightly higher and Atlanta ranked slightly lower than Seattle. That an Ethiopian man seeking asylum would choose a city that is extremely immigrant friendly with a huge Ethiopian community does not invite any further explanation.

    I found the New York Times Magazine article from a few weeks ago that suggests that Boeing is carefully avoiding any criticism of poorly trained/regulated airline customers fairly compelling. It seems extremely foolish to risk getting caught conspiring against a large customer when viewed through that lens.

  24. “He is a disgruntled ex-employee who fabricated a false story about Ethiopian Airlines, partly to revenge for his demotion while working in Ethiopian, and partly to probably develop a case to secure asylum in the USA. We would like to confirm once more that all his allegations are false and baseless.”
    This sounds almost verbatim the comments about another “disgruntled emplooyee”, an expat Canuck who warned that their pilot training was a hot mess (he was a captian who had left the airline becuase he was being ignored). Where theres smoke….

  25. Read enough of the AP article and you find this:

    ==A former spokesman for the airline union, Bekele Dumecha, told AP that he met with more than a dozen workers over six years who had been beaten at the same detention center, including one of the alleged victims identified by Yeshanew. Dumecha said he saw that person an hour after he was released, bruised and staggering. “He couldn’t walk properly,” said Dumecha, who is now living in Minnesota and also seeking asylum. “He was mentally and physically destroyed.”==

    This relates to BrewerSEA’s comment that Seattle and Minneapolis are major centers of Ethiopian immigrant population. So now we have to start looking for a significant connection between Boeing and Minnesota. Let’s see, they sell airplanes to Delta, which merged with Northwest back in 2008. It’s all made very clear now. What’s the third city with lots of former Ethiopians? Atlanta. And we know about Boeing’s connections there.

  26. Here we go again with the B737-MAX safety accusations and counters, thereof — once again, let’s look at some numbers!

    During its 2+ years in service (since May 22, 2017), the MAX had already made some 500,000 flights carrying 10s Millions passengers without any safety incidents. Then, from the end of October, 2018 to middle of March, 2019, there were 2 crashes. Not to be politically incorrect, but those 2 crashes occurred with non-Tier-1 airlines that had some inconsistent safety records. One has to then wonder *why* all those *other* airlines were able to operate MAX safely, in carrying out, once again, some 500,000 flights with 10s Millions passengers, but Lion Air and Ethiopian Air suffered crashes?

    Sure … Boeing *did* make some poor judgements with aspects of their MCAS design (eg, *why not* use *both* AOA sensors together rather than one at a time), but somehow all customer airlines were *still* able to fly some 500,000 flights carrying 10s Millions passengers without crashing. *Why* is that?

    So now comes this Ethiopian Air whistle-blower (and Chief Engineer, at that) about just how “unacceptable” that airline’s safety practices were! Yet there are those in the public who will *still* blindly indict Boeing for *any* (or no good) reason … let’s review —

    #1. Was the concept of MCAS fundamentally “flawed” — No … otherwise how could the MAX have flown 500,000 flights safely while carrying 10s Millions passengers?
    #2. Could the *implementation* of MCAS been better — Yes … there *were* some sub-optimal decisions made with its 1st generation design and implementation … but such identifiable weaknesses are now being fixed before the re-certification effort starts up
    #3. Do Boeing’s customer airlines bear some responsibility to ensure safety of MAX (and any other aircraft) operations through proper maintenance and personnel training — Yes … and this shows up in the integrity of operations at Tier-1 vs. non-Tier-1 airlines … *without* any reflections on Boeing itself!

    So all those who just love to perpetrate conspiracy ideas about Boeing’s “harboring” this whistle-blower for its own benefit, are totally Baseless and amount to yet more Fake News!

  27. Anyone who’s spent time working in this corner of the world is likely to see how all this could easily be true – which equally doesn’t mean it is.

  28. Ethiopian was started and helped out by TWA decades ago. Poor TWA. They were great. Too bad American did not take the TWA name. I would have liked it if the big 3 were United, TWA (DFW hub), and Pan Am (ATL hub)

  29. @BillC

    #1. MCAS is fundamentally “flawed”. If you think the 737MAX is safe, have you seen one flying lately? LOL
    #2. see #1.
    #3. Reminds me of the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit. User problems doesn’t make the not liable for it.
    Did the lady knew the coffee is hot — Yes … and this shows up in the common knowledge of any adults (of any Tier?) … *without* any reflections on McDonalds itself!

    Another thing you need to understand is modern planes have lots of redundancy (except MCAS), while you can easily discriminate airline by Tiers. Only those with fatalities gets in the news. If you were to go through maintenance logs you would find no significant deviation between your tiers, all of them have bunch of minor repairs done. The point is it takes a lot of things to go wrong before a plane falls out of the sky, just because Tier 1 airlines don’t crash doesn’t mean they are doing a better or worse job keeping it safe, go ask AA mechanics?
    I’m not saying ET is doing a good job on maintenance. Many airlines do cut corners, a lot more than you think. But for this incident, maintenance wasn’t the issue. Training probably is, but it is also because Boeing undermine the training requirements.

    You do make a valid point, but that doesn’t make the Boeing connection theory invalid either. Chinese have migrated and built communities everywhere, does that mean everywhere is a safe haven for Chinese and not get suspicious.
    I agree Boeing shouldn’t be blaming customers for their own faults. But try looking at this angle, ET has 32 of the 737MAX, Boeing has 5000+ orders. Lose 32 and sell 5000 is pretty easy math. And why Lion Air isn’t there, they have 240 orders and counting. I feel Indonesian doesn’t have a great safety practice either.

    Again, it is just my theory but some counter arguments are just too absurd.

  30. @Eskimo

    I’m not saying that Seattle having a large Ethiopian community means Boeing couldn’t possibly be involved in a conspiracy with him (though I frankly find that totally absurd). But it is so much more likely he chose Seattle due to family or community connections, and the way you and others have raised it (with !!!!!!) as some sort of smoking gun is just silly.

    The NYT Magazine article I referenced spent just as much ink commenting on Lion Air’s terrible training practices as well. For example:
    “In Jakarta, a graybeard captain, speaking to me on the condition of anonymity, described the attitude of the new owners toward their pilots. He said: “The pilots passed the check ride! They can fly the airplanes!” Also, in some owners’ view, the semiannual simulator training is wasteful because the simulators are costly to run and maintain, and while the pilots are playing around in them (while collecting their pay), they are not out producing revenue. Normally two pilots train in a simulator at a time, with an instructor seated behind them — so, three in the box. I was told that in Indonesian simulators, there are sometimes seven in there: two pilots flying, one instructing and four others standing up and logging the time.”

  31. If it was the ETs maintenance to blame for the the MAX crash, how do you explain the facts that ET has been flying almost exclusively a Boeing fleet for over 70 year with an outstanding safety record? Why did the newest aircraft in the entire fleet fall from the sky?

    BTW: if you don’t want to be called a racist, then STOP saying racist things… Yes, the first officer was 29 years old… but he had over 22,000 hours. Not 300….

  32. This needs to be investigated but for now, without knowing any facts, I don’t buy this guy’s story. Before I even started reading the comments I knew there would be people saying this is probably true because it is Africa and Africa is corrupt. Newsflash – corruption is everywhere, in Europe, China, Korea and of course the US. Let’s not forget where and how the Max saga started. In many ways the US is more like Africa than Africa itself..

  33. My initial gut reaction is that this whistleblower is correct. Beyond all the maintenance allegations, the mere fact that pilots with less than 300 hours flying time are utilized just doesn’t give me the comfort level to fly with them.

  34. Boeing, the FAA and Ethiopian Airlines. Choosing who is more corrupt between the three would be similar to deciding whether to lose an arm or a leg – either way it’s gonna be painful. Are we really surprised that a big corporation favored by a govt is corrupt? Isn’t that one of the requirements to be a corporation??

  35. @Tefere Gebre — “Yes, the first officer was 29 years old… but he had over 22,000 hours. Not 300….”

    I presume you made a careless typo with 22,000 hours? In order to have 22,000 flying hours of experience, he would have to fly 10 hours every day for 6 years straight without a single day of pause! This means that he would have had to start doing his non-stop flying marathon since age 23 … and we all know that *no* airline pilot in the world is allowed to fly on such a marathon schedule!

  36. “Political Asylum,” the game where you’ll throw anyone under the bus for a Green Card.

    If you’re not an immigrant, you wouldn’t understand.

  37. Anyone who has travelled to Addis Ababa knows that Ethiopian has expanded way too fast over the past decade. Takes up to 2 hours to get one’s bagage. Endless lines to immigration and customs, lounges crowded beyond belief, and bathrooms much like open sewerage. It wasn’t like that 10 or even 5 years ago. You also notice the breck-neck expansion on the staff. Almost all pilots and hostesses you come across are fresh recruits. The problem is that Ethiopian has been given one extremely urgent task by a hard-currency strapped government: fetch dollars. Everything else is on the back burner. It would be ridiculous to think this has not affected safety. When the plane crashed I immediatelt told a friend that it was likely that the pilots would be very young. That is not to point the blame in that direction, but two pilots in their twenties is now routine on Ethiopian.

    One more thing: everyone is going on about Ethiopian’s excellent safety record, mentioning only odd hijackings. Im not saying the record is bad, but you cannot begin to assess it without discussing the Beirut crash a decade ago, which is very significant. The investigation came to the conclusion that it was caused by pilot error, which is something that Wikileaks has shown that US intelligence too had resolved. Ethiopian, however, refused to accept this conclusion and keeps refusing to accept it to this date, but they do not offer any alternative explanation. That an airline management can be so cynical in the face of tragedy says a lot about the corporate culture Ethiopian has developed. In that regard, nothing that Ethiopian’s management has done or not done in response to the most recent crash can surprise me.

    And for the record. I am an Ethiopian, and I frequently travel Ethiopian.

  38. I would accept the allegation with grain of salt. I flew Ethiopia Airlines for continuous ten years at least once a week either domestic or international flights. The Airline put safety as a top priority when delays happens with minor safety concerns incl weather. Now my understanding is the competition in the airline industry is so fierce the whistle-blower’s handlers believe this is the right time to take down one the safest and profitable airlines.

    Springfield Virginia

  39. For those claiming the MAX was incident-free prior to the crashes, there were multiple reports by US pilots about the aircraft suddenly and without warning trimming down, which we now know was due to MCAS. Fortunately for all of them, it happened during cruise and not immediately after takeoff at low altitude.

  40. A former Chinese air hostess working for ET has been claiming on a Chinese social media that she was harassed, raped, beaten and humiliated by ET staff. But ET, together with the employment agent in Beijing, keeps denying and saying she was fired because she was insane and violent.

  41. Hater. We just made a lot in profits & we’re one of the safest in the world. Boeing probably paid for this shyt to be published. We are the best, and Boeing need to pay to the families instead. And that “whistleblower” is saying all this crap to get his green card. Smh, አንተም ወያኔም ኦነግም ሁሉም ኢትዬጵያን ወደውሀላ ሚጎትቱ ይወድማሉ! ቀፋፊ!

  42. It seems strange that if the allegations are true that Ethiopian has such a good safety record until it was compromised by the 7M8.

    Boeing and US officials have always been keen to blame the airlines for these crashes but the 7M8 is intrinsically flawed by design and will never be safe. Far better admit that and start scrapping them.

    As for an Ethiopian seeking political asylum and conveniently in Seattle, it stinks.

  43. @Dusty — “For those claiming the MAX was incident-free prior to the crashes, there were multiple reports by US pilots about the aircraft suddenly and without warning trimming down, which we now know was due to MCAS. Fortunately for all of them, it happened during cruise and not immediately after takeoff at low altitude.”

    Yes … you are correct! But the point is that, with over 500,000 flights under its belt, there had *not* been any crashes or any other fatalities! What does that tell us?

    The MCAS misbehavior has been characterized as analogous to a “runaway horizontal stabilizer” situation, which *can* manifest even in legacy aircraft from any manufacturer! In fact, how to handle such a situation is a standard part of competent pilot training curricula! Note that such incidents were recoverable by other pilots who had proper training and experiences, albeit under more favorable circumstances, as compared to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air tragedies!

    Should Boeing have made MCAS more robust and consistent in its behavior? Should Boeing have been more “transparent” about the incorporation of MCAS? Of course! But, as with everything in life, proper training can (an has) help(ed) avoid catastrophes over and over again!

  44. @Phil Duncan — “It seems strange that if the allegations are true that Ethiopian has such a good safety record until it was compromised by the 7M8.”

    It has been pointed out by others that Ethiopian Air apparently suffers from inadequate numbers of adequately trained and experienced pilots to fly their aircraft. This being the case, it is most likely that their least experienced pilots will fly the smaller end of their aircraft fleet. This is pretty much also the case with most airlines worldwide — seniority and experience gets dibs on flying the latest wide-bodies!
    @Phil Duncan — “Boeing and US officials have always been keen to blame the airlines for these crashes but the 7M8 is intrinsically flawed by design and will never be safe. Far better admit that and start scrapping them.”

    It’s always amusing to hear such indictments against the design of the MAX from those who are *not* into aircraft engineering or management of airlines! Let’s briefly review some basics about this issue —

    #1. Boeing got caught flat-footed when Airbus actually announced their new NEO family centered around their 32x models, even though Boeing knew that Airbus had such an initiative underway

    #2. At this point Boeing could do one of three things —
    #2a. Do nothing and watch its 737 market evaporate over time
    #2b. Create a derivative solution within its 737NG family to compete against the NEOs
    #2c. Create a totally new solution that obsoletes its 737 family

    Boeing obviously can NOT do #2a since that’s exiting that market segment, which happens to bring in the majority of Boeing’s airliner revenues. Boeing also can NOT do #2c since that will end up with the same end-effect as #2a (it typically takes 6+ years to get a brand new design developed and certified for production). So #2b is the ONLY realistic choice to pursue!

    This being the case, and with new generation engines being the drivers behind these “new” aircraft versions, Boeing needed to adapt the larger CFM LEAP-1B engines onto its legacy 737 body frame. This entailed resolutions to several issues and MCAS was conceptualized as the most efficient method to “get the job done” as quickly as possible.

    There is NOTHING inherently wrong with using software such as MCAS to resolve adaptation of the LEAP-1B engine, since computer/software-driven flight controls have been used in all types of aircraft going all the way back to the F-16 fighters that were originally developed 40+ years ago!

    So the CONCEPT of MCAS is totally SOUND, but, as often happens in real life, its actual IMPLEMENTATION got corrupted by many external factors, which seem to have occurred. However, such problems often CAN be fixed through software patches, rather than total redesign of hardware, if properly architected in advance!

    So it is NOT necessary, and is NOT feasible, to scrap the MAX and develop a brand new aircraft to replace the MAX! Boeing just needs to make MCAS more robust and consistent in its intended behavior under ALL flight situations before re-certification happens!

  45. By claiming that FAA determined their maintenance was insufficient, it makes me doubt most of the claim being made. Ethiopian is permitted to fly to America. Ethiopian is permitted to fly to the EU. So clearly the aviation regulators in these jurisdiction have determined that they are a safe airline meeting all of the criteria to fly there. If they failed an FAA inspection, surely they would have been barred from flying to USA.

  46. If the FAA had deemed the technical staff unfit to perform their tasks or meet their minimum requirements, Ethiopian’s services to the USA would have been impacted, subjected to audits and/or discontinuation. Ethiopian flies multiple flights per day to the USA, passenger (Washington, Chicago, Newark, JFK) and cargo, and is about to also start flying to Houston.

    Words like “we pray to God that this will not point to our fault” can be interpreted in a number of ways from Amharic to other languages. But if they were truly said, any company representative that is involved in such accident would think it and say it out loud. If someone slipped and fell outside your home in icy conditions, you would still say something along those lines so you are not blamed/sued for it.

  47. if the guy is telling us the Truth. He supposed to leave his job a head of time. my question is why now? Even if the claim is true , he is part of the problem . because he was there , keep silent for years and enjoy his work at the expense of peoples live. In can smell something ………….from Boeing side, but the investigation has to be commence.

  48. @BillC
    “So it is NOT necessary, and is NOT feasible, to scrap the MAX and develop a brand new aircraft to replace the MAX! Boeing just needs to make MCAS more robust and consistent in its intended behavior under ALL flight situations before re-certification happens!”

    This makes it clear that you either work for Boeing PR or just willing to defend Boeing at any cost…. for the reasons stated by yourself (Boeing not having a real answer to Airbus) and being pressured by American Airlines, Boeing basically decided to load up a huge engine on a 60 year of 737 and call it new… Its not or never was a software issue… the MAX should never have been allowed to fly. BTW: you keep say “one accident “… how about Lyon Air?
    Boeing needs to scrap this thing… come up with a new aircraft that worthy of the skies.

  49. @Tefere Gebre — “This makes it clear that you either work for Boeing PR or just willing to defend Boeing at any cost….” —

    Uh … *Not*! I’m merely evaluating Boeing’s Engineering and Management options on how to respond to Airbus’s NEO versions in an expeditious manner! Anyone with credible Engineering or Management backgrounds can relate to these same issues! Did you notice that I *did* fault Boeing for its *flawed* implementation of MCAS? However, keep in mind that Implementation and Concept are *Not* the same thing!
    — “… Boeing basically decided to load up a huge engine on a 60 year of 737 and call it new… Its not or never was a software issue… the MAX should never have been allowed to fly.”

    Did you read my thread above on the Engineering and Management aspects of Boeing’s choices? Do you realize just how many aircraft today *must* rely on software in order to even “fly” (ie, stay in the air)?

    *All* Airbus aircraft use software as well — are you aware of the A320/A320NEO Center-of-Gravity issue that, after decades of service, has just recently become center stage with some EU airlines, due to cabin seating configurations? And *how* is Airbus going to “fix” this “flaw” in their decades-old design? Through *Software*!

    There is absolutely *Nothing* wrong with incorporating software within the control loop of aircraft today — commercial or military! Like I said in my post above — an inadequate or flawed *Implementation* does *not* therefore invalidate the underlying “Concept*!
    — “BTW: you keep say ‘one accident’ … how about Lyon Air?” —

    Uh … I can’t seem to locate your “one accident” reference in this thread? Help me locate that?
    — “Boeing needs to scrap this thing… come up with a new aircraft that worthy of the skies.” —

    You should review what I posted above about Boeing’s choices from both Engineering and Management perspectives! Keep in mind that it takes at least 6+ years to get a new design developed and certified! Is the global airliner market is going to just sit by and wait at least 6+ years for Boeing to develop and certify something brand new? That would be called their New Midsize Airplane (NMA or some guess 797) program, that has *not* been approved for launch, due to the current MAX issues!

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