After an official probe into the ET-409 flight that crashed in 2010 off the coast of Beirut, Ethiopian Airlines concluded that its pilots are not to blame for the accident.
Lebanese authorities are expected to release the official probe blaming the two pilots for the tragic accident which claimed lives of all 90 on board. However, Ethiopian said the probe is flawed.
“Lebanese senior government officials in the first days of accident said that the pilots were responsible for the accident and sabotage has been ruled out. After publicly speculating about the cause of the accident, the investigation that took over two years has been to justify the first speculation,” said Ethiopian Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam on Tuesday announcing a decision that the carrier will not accept the official probe findings.
Ethiopian says it offered to pay the expense to lift 92 percent of the aircraft’s wreckage from shores to no avail. Ethiopian also tried to have eyewitnesses’ account including Lebanese coast guards’ testimonies who said the plane was caught on fire before plunging into the sea, the plane’s movement, the final conversation between the two pilots and other crucial evidence included in the investigation.
However Ethiopian said these and other crucial evidences were “subtly excluded and tampered with”.
Ethiopian officials say they were repeatedly ignored by Lebanese officials when they voiced their concerns about the investigation and “nobody showed up and showed interest” in Paris and Beirut when the two sides were scheduled to meet.
“Our brothers and sisters in Lebanon have given us the vote of confidence to our safety reputation. They continue to fly Ethiopian. Also authorities in Lebanon provided us with all the necessary cooperation and assistance every single day we flied there over the past two years,” said the CEO downplaying calls to offload Beirut and added Ethiopian will continue to fly.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 was scheduled to operate from Beirut to Addis Ababa only to tragically plunge into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport on 25 January 2010.
ET-409 was the first crash for Ethiopian Airlines since the hijacking of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 in 1996. Since first setup in 1945 Ethiopian has not witnessed an accident the airliner’s crew was responsible for ranking the flag carrier above many carriers particularly in Africa.