Key points from Ethiopian Airlines whistleblower complaint

Key takeaways from The Associated Press’ exclusive story on a former top engineer at Ethiopian Airlines who filed a whistleblower complaint that the carrier went into maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year:

— Yonas Yeshanew said in his complaint filed with regulators that while it is unclear what, if anything, in the downed plane’s records was altered, the decision to go into them at all when they should have been sealed reflects a government-owned carrier with plenty to hide. He contends the action was part of a pattern of corruption that included signing off on shoddy repairs and even beating those who got out of line.

— Yeshanew alleged that Ethiopian’s fast growth is overworking mechanics and pushing them to take shortcuts. He included emails in his report showing he urged top executives for years to end a practice at the airline of signing off on maintenance and repair jobs that he asserts were done incompletely, incorrectly or not at all. The criticisms were backed by three other former employees who spoke to AP.

— Yeshanew also alleged that Ethiopian maintains a jail-like detention center at its headquarters that it used to interrogate, intimidate and sometimes beat employees who got out of line. He said he was taken there in the summer and threatened with similar treatment before coming to the U.S. and seeking asylum.

— In its response to AP, Ethiopian denied a history of tampering and shoddy maintenance or using torture, and that Yeshanew was a disgruntled former employee. It said nothing was changed in the crashed plane’s records and that as soon as the accident happened, those documents were sealed and stored in a secure place for investigators.

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