Ethiopian Airlines CEO dismisses need for optional safety equipment

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines is dismissing the need for optional safety equipment that was not installed on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft involved in a crash earlier this month that killed 157 people.

“A Toyota is imported with all the necessary equipment to drive, like the engine and the wheels, but with air conditioning and the radio optional,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told Reuters. “When Boeing supplies aircraft, there are items which are mandatory for safety and then there are optional items."

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Boeing has faced criticism because its 737 Max jets involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a deadly Lion Air crash last October did not have "angle of attack" indicators or disagree lights.

The angle of attack sensors detect how much a plane’s nose is pointing up or down relative to oncoming air. The optional safety features may have been able to help the pilots in the two deadly crashes regain control of the flight, experts have said.

But Tewolde rejected that criticism, according to Reuters.

“The angle of attack indicator was on the optional list along with the inflight entertainment system,” he said.

Boeing, however, will now make the disagree light a standard feature on 737 Max planes instead of charging for it as an upgrade, according to media reports.