Ethiopia plane crash: Airline dismisses pilot error report

February 20, 2010

The Ethiopian Airlines on Friday dismissed as ‘speculative’, reports that pilot error was behind the Beirut crash that killed 90 people in January, saying investigations were likely to take long to reach conclusions into the possible reasons behind the crash.

Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive, Girma Wake, said the report of pilot error was ‘speculative, speculative and speculative,’ adding that the investigations were still continuing.

Reacting to the latest reports that hinted pilot error was behind the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner, taking off from the Rafik Hariri Airport in Beirut, Wake said it was still too early to talk about human error as the sole cause of the accident.

‘The investigations would have to come up with the report. We have to wait for the final report,’ Wake told PANA Friday.

Lebanese authorities said a preliminary investigation report on the cause of the flight ET 409 crash would be released over the next few days.

Wake said the preliminary report on the possible causes of the plane crash was unlikely to be ready by the stated dates.

‘The investigations will take some time. We do not think the preliminary report would be ready by 23-24 February. The report about pilot error in this case is speculative,’ the airline chief said.

An international probe team, including Ethiopian expert, Girma Byami, has received the initial results of the air accident investigation, which claimed the co-pilot misinterpreted the instructions from the airport’s control tower, leading the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

The report followed the initial examination of the two black boxes, the Cockpit Voice Data Recorder, which records conversations between the pilot and the airport control tower.

The investigating team also examined the Flight Data Recorder, which checked the speed of the aircraft before the crash.

According to Lebanese media, the pilot error was the most likely cause of the crash, after the initial investigations ruled out a terrorist attack.

The pilot’s last words were: ‘We are finishedâ¦God have mercy on us,’ the As-Safir, a news website in Lebanon, quoted French experts who decoded the black boxes as saying.

The report suggested that the pilot discovered the co-pilot did not follow the instructions from the control tower, before losing control.

The report also suggested that the jet did not break into pieces before hitting the water, as earlier reported by witnesses.

Ethiopian Airlines said it would not comment until the final verdict from the investigators.

Addis Ababa – Pana 20/02/2010