Ethiopian Airline Crash: Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 a safe plane?

Ethiopian Airline Crash: Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 a safe plane?

Ethiopian Airline Crash: Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 a safe plane?

By Davis Muli

Even as condolences messages to families and friends of those who perished on Sunday morning in the Ethiopian Airline plane that crashed barely six minutes after take-off continue to pour in, one question continues to linger on the minds of frequent travelers.

 

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Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 a safe plane?

According to information available on its manufacturer’s website –Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the new 737 generation was launched on August 30, 2011 and performed its first flight on January 29, 2016. It is also said that the new series gained certification on March 8, 2017 from The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States, a national authority with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation.

However, this new generation aircraft has been involved in two fatal accidents in a span of six months.  The latest deadly crash on Sunday involved the same aircraft model which was less than four months old, killing all 157 people onboard.

In October last year, a Boeing 737 Max 8, operated by Lion Air — crashed off Indonesia and killed all 189 onboard.

In both cases, the brand-new planes faltered minutes after takeoff and plunged into a deadly descent, leaving no survivors. Investigations are still on going on both crashes, however, the cause of Sunday’s tragedy remains undetermined.

In the wake of the Ethiopian crash, more than a dozen airlines around the world have grounded their 737 Max 8 planes. Singapore’s civil aviation authority barred their use, affecting SilkAir, an arm of Singapore Airlines that has six of the aircraft, as well as China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air. One of Brazil’s biggest airlines, GOL, grounded its seven aircraft and Aeroméxico suspended the use of its six planes.

Argentina’s Association of Airline Pilots too has ordered its members not to fly the Max series.

On the contrary, The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has told airlines it believes Boeing’s 737 Max 8 model to be airworthy.

Issuing a “continued airworthiness notification” on Monday, the FAA says the plane is safe to fly.

“The FAA continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of U.S. commercial aircraft,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email. “If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”

The statement signals that U.S. regulators have no immediate intention of grounding the 737 Max 8, breaking with China’s and other countries across the globe decision to tell their airlines to suspend use of the plane.

 

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