Ethiopian Airlines, yesterday suspended the use of Boeing 737 -800 MAX aircraft in its fleet for commercial aviation after a crash involving the aircraft type killed all 157 persons on board shortly after take-off from Bolle International Airport in Addis Ababa. It was headed for Nairobi, Kenya.
Already, there is growing anxiety and fear among Nigerians over the fate of the 10 Boeing 737 MAX 800 series aircraft ordered by Air Peace Airlines in 2018 to boost its domestic and regional operations by 2020.
A top official of one of the local airlines told Daily Sun that “If other countries are grounding the Boeing 737MAX aircraft, then Nigeria must not allow its use.”
“We had a similar issue with the BAC 1-11 aircraft type in Nigeria about a decade ago; it appeared the aircraft had flaws that led to a spate of crashes in Nigeria with hundreds of human casualties. No one wants to fly in a coffin. And the NCAA had to ban its use at the end of the day. So if other countries are halting the deployment of the Boeing 737-800MAX, then Nigeria should also not allow its use until all safety issues relating to it challenges are resolved.” The B737-800 MAX aircraft is Boeing’s latest brand of aircraft launched in 2017.
By the end of January 2019, Boeing had delivered 350 of the new jets to customers, with another 4,661 on order.
But there have been growing global concerns by aeronautical engineers and safety experts on the airworthiness of the aircraft type given the complex computerisation deployed in its design with its bigger engines that have fuel efficiency.
The fears were fuelled by accidents involving a newly delivered MAX800 aircraft in recent months in Indonesia.
Ethiopian Airlines, which has four other 737 MAX 8 jets, said although it didn’t know the cause of the accident, it decided to ground the fleet as extra safety precaution.
China has also ordered its airlines to suspend use of their 737 MAX 8 jets by 6 p.m, while Cayman Airways grounded both its new 737 MAX 800 jets temporarily also as India announced a safety review in the use of the aircraft.
Indonesia, where a Lion Air 737 Max 8 went down Java River in October, also said it would temporarily ground the model.
Meanwhile Nigeria’s leading commercial operator, Air Peace which recently placed order for 10 of the MAX800 aircraft, clarified it was yet to take delivery of the aircraft type. The management assured passengers of the airworthiness and safety of its existing fleet.
“It imperative to clarify that Air Peace recently placed a firm order for 10 brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, but we are, however, yet to take delivery of the aircraft as we are still at the design and configuration stage of the order,” its spokesaman, Chris Iwarah said.
“Although it is premature to comment on the incidents, we wish to assure members of the flying public that we are closely following and monitoring developments on the issue as an airline that prioritises the safety and well-being of our customers.