Lebanese report finds pilot error in Ethiopian jet crash

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File picture dated 26 January 2010 shows Lebanese civil defense members carrying a section of the wing of an Ethiopian airliner on the shores of Beirut, a day after it crashed off Lebanon. (Photo: AFP - STR)

Published Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pilot error and flight crew inexperience were the probable causes into a 2010 crash of Ethiopian flight ET409 off Lebanon's coast, an official report obtained by Al-Akhbar on Tuesday revealed.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 went down shortly after take-off from Beirut's international airport on 25 January 2010, killing all 90 people on board.

The joint investigation, including Lebanon, Ethiopia, France, and the United States, found that flight crew failed to "abide by CRM (Crew Resource Management) principles of mutual support and calling deviation hindered any timely intervention and correction."

The report pointed to a reluctance from the main pilot to intervene, failing to address alarm signals before the plane plunged into the the sea.

Other contributing factors were said to have created a "case of loss of situation awareness similar to subtle incapacitation," with the report highlighting the weather, time of day, and heavy meal that affected sleep.

The Ethiopian contingent rejected the final findings, however, arguing that the plane crashed because of a "possible shoot down, sabotage or lightning strike."

The plane had entered a storm upon crashing into the sea, but the final investigation ruled out the possibility of a lightning strike or sabotage.

The Ethiopians criticized the claim of "subtle incapacitation" of the pilots as "incorrect and inappropriate," adding that there was no evidence that the main pilot "failed to function effectively."

The US was included in the investigation on behalf of Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft, while France was drawn in as an adviser to Lebanon's investigative team.

Links to the final report released by the Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transportation Ghazi Aridi:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Response by Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority:

Full response

Al-Akhbar's Bassam Alkantar contributed to this article


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