Ethiopian Airlines remains a strong believer in planemaker Boeing, despite the crash of its 737 Max 8 aircraft which led to 157 deaths and subsequent grounding of the entire Max 8 fleet worldwide. The carrier even plans working with the American multinational to make air travel safer.
According to a statement by Ethiopian airlines chief executive, Tewolde GebreMariam, “Let me be clear, Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years.”
In four months, two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets have crashed. Both planes — Lion Air Flight 610 which crashed on October 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 which crashed on March 10, 2019 — experienced technical issues known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) shortly after takeoff, killing a total of 346 people on board.
The MCAS was added to the Boeing 737 Max to reduce the threat of aerodynamic stalls due to a new engine design and though there are still a lot of unknowns about the two crashes, Ethiopia is not giving up on Boeing; at least not yet.
The carrier’s relationship with Boeing dates back to 1960 when Boeing played a huge role in facilitating Ethiopian’s expansion strategy. The American planemaker was instrumental in helping the East African carrier build one of the youngest major fleets in the world which is currently less than five years of age.
Boeing supplies majority of Ethiopia’s planes and their bond is such a strong one that when Ethiopia’s provisional military government, Derg, ordered that the country should only buy Russian aircraft, the order was collectively dismissed as the airline’s management warned of collective resignation. Eventually, the order was overturned.
On Monday, GebreMariam noted that “Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future. I am sure that the aircraft will get back into the skies soon and that Boeing will get to the bottom of what happened and if there is something technical wrong that they will find a fix for it.”
Several other airlines that have ordered the Max 8 have kept faith with the company which has been making aircraft for more than 100 years, while it tries to fix a software problem suspected to be the cause of the crash of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 planes. Nigeria’s Air Peace has said it would not cancel its order of the aircraft. In like manner, Chairman of Kenya Airways, Michael Joseph said the Kenyan national carrier will not change its plan to order up to 10 Boeing aircraft.
“We hope that between now and the time when we are ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have solved the current problem,” he told Kenya’s Business Daily in an interview.
While some airlines are showing continued faith in Boeing, Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia last week publicly announced the cancellation of its $6 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, citing loss of passenger trust.
Later this week, Boeing Co will brief more than 200 global airline pilots, technical experts and regulators on software and training updates for its 737 MAX aircraft.