An interview on the American NBC News network with Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam revealed that the airline may never operate the Boeing 737 MAX again. GebreMariam stated: “I cannot fully say that the airplane will fly back with Ethiopian Airlines. It may, if we are fully convinced and if we are able to convince our pilots, if we are ever to convince our travelling public.”
It has been two months since the loss of ET302 and since then damaging reports have emerged against Boeing’s MCAS software.
At present it is uncertain when the MAX series will fly again, although several airlines are counting on the FAA grounding being lifted by the end of the summer. Presently, Boeing is working hard on tests associated with the MCAS in order to re-gain certification of the airliner.
If Ethiopian Airlines decide to abandon the 737 MAX, the options available to replace the type within the fleet are:
737-800: Similar in size and no additional pilot training required, although the type is less fuel efficient.
Airbus A220-300: Less capacity. A mixed fleet if short-haul aircraft for the airline would need additional investment in crew training.
Airbus A320neo: Operating a mixed narrow body fleet would require further pilot and maintenance training.