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Ethiopian crash: China grounds MAX-8s, others back jets

Expert says model is still safe to fly

The fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane has sent shockwaves around the world – and in more ways than one. 


Bound for Nairobi, Ethiopian Airlines flight  ET302 crashed around six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.


The plot thickens when considering that it is the second time in just over four months that a Boeing 737 MAX-8 has crashed shortly after take-off. In late October last year,  Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia 13 minutes after departing Jakarta Airport.

Image AP / Tatan Syuflana


With questions being asked as to the safety of the jet, the world’s second biggest aviation market, China, has reportedly grounded all B737 MAX-8 aircraft. 


According to local media network, Caijing, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) asked domestic airlines that operate the model to temporarily ground the aircraft. 


The regulator said on social media that some 96 MAX-8 jets are in service in the country, with operators including Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines. 


Meanwhile, Indonesia's Air Transportation director-general said the country would also ground its 11 737 MAX-8 jets, ten of which are operated by Lion Air, the ABC reported.


Whilst no Australian airlines operate the MAX-8 jet, Virgin Australia currently has 30 of the aircraft on order, with the first delivery expected late this year. 


A VA spokesman said it was too early to comment on whether the Ethiopian crash would impact the order, SBS News reported.


Fiji Airways, who already operates the MAX-8 in its fleet, said it had "full confidence in the airworthiness of our fleet".


"Fiji Airways followed a comprehensive induction process for our new Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft," FJ said.


"We continue to ensure that our maintenance and training programme for pilots and engineers meets the highest safety standards." 


Swinburne University aviation expert Dr Peter Bruce told SBS the model was still safe to fly, despite the two recent and similar crashes.


"The incidents and accidents that do happen strike the headlines, rightly so, but they're actually very few and far between considering the thousands and thousands of flights each day," he said. 


Would you be concerned flying the B737 MAX-8?


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 11 March 2019

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