Ethiopian Airlines still 'believes in Boeing' despite 737 Max crash, CEO says

Key Points
  • Boeing has confirmed changes to training and operation of its 737 Max airplane.
  • 346 people have died after two separate crashes involving the 737 Max.
  • The FBI is now probing the plane's certification process.
CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam makes a speech during an event organized by Ethiopian Airlines to mark the International Women's Day at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 8, 2019.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The chief executive of Ethiopian airlines has said his company "believes in Boeing," despite a tragic crash just over two weeks ago.

A Boeing 737 Max 8 plane killed all 157 people on board on March 10 just minutes into its flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

Questions over the Boeing plane have arisen amid similarities with the crash of a Lion Air 737 Max plane in Indonesia last October that killed 189 people.

"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 Monday.

The executive added that he did not want to yet speculate on the cause of the Ethiopian crash but said the investigation was well underway and he expected to discover the truth.

Gebremariam also defended his airline's training procedure, noting that Ethiopian pilots who flew the 737 Max 8 were fully trained on a service bulletin issued by Boeing and the Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued by the USA Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

As investigations continue, the plane has been grounded by several jurisdictions around the world.

On Wednesday, Boeing is to brief more than 200 airline pilots in Washington about training and software updates to the 737 Max. Reuters has reported that Lion Air Managing Director Daniel Putut has said his airline would a pilot and an engineer to the briefing. 

Meanwhile, the CEO of Qatar Airways said Monday that he had confidence in Boeing and its ability to fix the plane.

Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Muscat: "We have confidence in the Boeing airplanes and we are sure they will find the issue they had which is still under investigation."

FBI joins criminal probe into Boeing 737 Max, report says

Boeing's Vice President for commercial plane marketing, Randy Tinseth, told a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference in London last week that he expected the FAA to certify updates to the jet's flight control software and training within weeks.

Last week the FBI joined a criminal investigation of the original certification process for the 737 Max jet.