The captain of a doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight did not get a chance to practice on his airline’s new simulator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 before he died in a crash with 157 others, a pilot colleague said.
Captain Yared Getachew, 29, was due for refresher training at the end of March, his colleague told Reuters, two months after Ethiopian Airlines had received one of the first such simulators being distributed.
The March 10 disaster, following another MAX 8 crash in Indonesia in October, has set off one of the biggest inquiries in aviation history, focused on the safety of a new automated system and whether crews understood it properly
In both cases, the pilots lost control soon after take-off and fought a losing battle to stop their jets plunging down.
Globally, most commercial airline pilots refresh training in simulators every six months.
In the Ethiopian crash, it was not clear if Yared’s colleague – First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed, 25, who also died in the crash – had practiced on the new MAX simulator.
It was also not clear if Yared or Ahmednur would have been trained on that simulator or an older one for 737s that their airline also owned.
The 737 MAX 8 was introduced into commercial service in 2017, but pilots of older 737s were only required to have computer-based training to switch, according to Boeing, airlines, unions, and regulators.
By December, two months after the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people off Jakarta, the main simulator producer CAE Inc of Canada said it had delivered just four MAX simulators to airlines.
At that time, CAE had orders from airlines globally for 30 MAX simulators, which cost between $6 million and $15 million each depending on customization.
Now CAE has orders for 40 MAX simulators, a spokesman for the Canadian manufacturer told Reuters this week.