The captain of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 did not practice on a new simulator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 before he died in a crash with 157 others, a colleague of the deceased pilot has been quoted by Reuters as saying.
Yared Getachew, 29, was due for refresher training at the end of March, his colleague at the airline reportedly said, two months after Ethiopian Airlines had received one of the first such simulators being distributed.
The March 10 disaster, following another MAX 8 crash in Indonesia in October, has set off one of the biggest inquiries in aviation history, focused on the safety of a new automated system and whether crews understood it properly.
In both cases, the pilots lost control soon after take-off and fought a losing battle to stop their jets plunging down.
The MAX, which came into service two years ago, has a new automated system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System). It is meant to prevent loss of lift, which can cause an aerodynamic stall sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.
“Boeing did not send manuals on MCAS,” the Ethiopian Airlines pilot told Reuters in a hotel lobby, declining to give his name as staff have been told not to speak in public.
“Actually we know more about the MCAS system from the media than from Boeing,” he was quoted as saying.
Under unprecedented scrutiny and with its MAX fleet grounded worldwide, the world’s largest plane maker has said airlines were given guidance on how to respond to the activation of MCAS software. It is also promising a swift update.
Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday that its pilots had completed training recommended by Boeing and approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on differences between the previous 737 NG aircraft and the 737 MAX version.
They were also briefed on an emergency directive after the Indonesia crash, which was incorporated into manuals and procedures, it said in a tweet. The 737 MAX simulator was not designed to replicate the MCAS system problems, it added.
“We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of the accident investigation,” it said.
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