Yesterday (Mar 10), 157 passengers and crew members of a 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines were killed when the plane crashed minutes after taking off. It was the same model operated by Lion Air that crashed under similar circumstances in Indonesia last October, claiming the lives of 189 people on board.
In other words, in less than six months, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 has two similar incidences of crashing, minutes after takeoff. Questions are now being raised about the safety of 737 MAX 8, which was launched just less than 2 years ago.
AFP reported what the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines told reporters. He said, “The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and he wants to return. He was given clearance to turn around.” Weather conditions were known to be good in the Ethiopian capital at the time of the flight.
An aerospace expert, requesting anonymity to speak freely on the matter, told AFP, “It’s the same plane. Like Lion Air, the (Ethiopia Airlines) accident took place shortly after takeoff and the pilots signaled they were experiencing problems, then the plane crashed. The similarities are clear.”
But another noted that “these are the only similarities, and the comparison stops there as we do not have any other reliable information at this juncture”.
Since the Lion Air accident, the 737 MAX has faced growing skepticism from the aerospace community. In fact, during the development of the plane, it has already encountered problems. In May 2017 before the launch, Boeing had halted 737 MAX test flights due to quality concerns with the engine produced by CFM International. The MAX model is the latest version of the Boeing’s best selling 737 planes.
Boeing would only say that it was “deeply saddened” by yesterday’s incident, adding that a technical team would be providing assistance to investigators. In the Lion Air crash last October, investigators found problems with the plane’s airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors. Boeing only issued a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation.
SIA: SilkAir’s 737 MAX 8 flights will operate as scheduled
Following yesterday’s crash of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines, China’s aviation regulator has ordered all Chinese airlines to suspend their Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operations.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration to ensure flight safety.
But SIA which owns SilkAir, said today (11 Mar) that SilkAir’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes will continue to operate as scheduled, even as it is “closely monitoring developments” following the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
“We are saddened by the loss of flight ET302 and our hearts go out to those affected. We are in contact with Boeing and are closely monitoring developments,” an SIA spokesperson said. “The safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance to SilkAir. At this point SilkAir’s 737 MAX 8 flights are operating as scheduled.”
SilkAir currently has six Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in its fleet, with another 31 on firm order.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore also did not say anything.