Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ethiopian airlines dismisses Lebanese claim - The AfricaNews articles of Zebera

Abraham Fisseha, AfricaNews reporter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Airlines strongly refutes the final investigation report released today by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Works and Transport on the accident of ET 409 / 25 January 2010. "The Airline maintained that the Lebanese Government had been speculating the cause of the accident as pilot error right from the day of the accident contrary to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13." EAL (Ethiopian Airlines) stated in a statement it posted in its website.
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“We are not surprised that the investigation process in the last couple of years was used only to justify the speculation made publicly before the beginning of the investigation process. To this effect, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority has appended its comments to the report and expressed its regrets and disagreement both in the investigation process and the final report. ” Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines stated.

According to the CEO Mr. Tewolde the final report issued by the Lebanese authorities was biased, lacking evidence, incomplete and did not present the full account of the accident.

He noted that the report contained numerous factual inaccuracies, internal contradictions and hypothetical statements that are not supported by evidence. He further stated that the investigative authority denied the recovery of the wreckage and ignored crucial information such as security footage, autopsy and taxo-logical records, baggage screening X-ray records, terminal CCTV records, full CVR recovery and read out, victims’ bodies were buried without medical examination and also declined to provide a detailed profile of passengers.

“ATC officers and other airlines’ pilots have witnessed a ball of fire on the aircraft in the air. All recordings of the Digital Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder stopped at 1300 ft. and the aircraft disappeared from radar screen at the same time.

The last cockpit voice recording was also a loud noise which sounds like an explosion. All these facts clearly indicate that the aircraft disintegrated in the air due to explosion, which could have been caused by a shoot-down, sabotage, or lightening strike.” Capt. Desta Zeru, VP Flight Operations of Ethiopian Airlines said:
“Although the final report wrongly alleges that the captain’s actions, statements and degraded performance during that period were as a result of spatial disorientation and loss of situational awareness; the fact of the matter is the CVR and DFDR clearly show that the pilot was making appropriate inputs in an effort to control the aircraft.

This contradicts the investigation assertion that the captain was under subtle incapacitation while he was making every effort to control the aircraft even under heavy gravity force. Moreover, both pilots were properly trained and qualified. The captain had over 20 years of experience with a total time of 10,233 hours and the crew pairing was in accordance with approved policy.

The crew duty and rest time was in accordance with the regulation. Any characterization of our pilots contrary to the foregoing is pure fabrication that cannot stand any scrutiny,’ EAL CEO Mr Tewolde said

Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi told AFP news agency it was "clear" that "there were errors on the part of the pilot and co-pilot who are entirely responsible for the plane crash".

According to AFP, the Lebanese report says the pilot and co-pilot had been working non-stop for 51 days and were exhausted.

Mr Aridi said the plane was sound and transcripts of the exchanges between the crew and air traffic control on takeoff had not indicated any problem.

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