Ethiopian Airlines “believes in” Boeing despite the crash of its 737 MAX 8 plane that killed all 157 people on board and led to the model’s grounding, the carrier’s CEO said on Monday.
“Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years,” Tewolde GebreMariam wrote in a statement.
“We will work with investigators in Ethiopia, in the US and elsewhere to figure out what went wrong,” he added.
Flight ET 302 crashed on March 10 just minutes into its flight to Nairobi.
It was the second disaster for the 737 MAX 8 since the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air Jet that killed all 189 passengers and crew. Aviation regulators responded by grounding the model around the world.
Ethiopia’s transport minister has said “clear similarities” exist between the two crashes based on an analysis of black box data, without giving further details.
While pledging “full and transparent cooperation to discover what went wrong,” Tewolde also hit back at reports critical of Ethiopian’s safety record.
The New York Times reported last week that the pilot of the doomed flight had not trained on a 737 MAX 8 simulator.
“Contrary to some media reports, our pilots who fly the new model were trained on all appropriate simulators,” Tewolde said in the Monday statement.
The Washington Post also reported that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received two complaints about Ethiopian’s training and safety record in 2015, before the 737 MAX 8 was in use.
Tewolde announced on Saturday the airline would sue both publications for “publishing baseless defamatory stories”, according to Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.
Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and has had a long association with American aviation.
Founded in 1945 with assistance from former American carrier Trans World Airlines (TWA), Boeing aircraft make up the majority of the Ethiopian fleet.
Tewolde called for the 737 MAX 8’s grounding after the crash, but in the statement struck a conciliatory tone towards Boeing.
“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” he said.