Airlines await Boeing’s directive on 737 Max 8

Airlines that operate the model of aircraft that was involved in the Indonesian Lion Air crash are not undertaking emergency inspections until they hear more details about what caused the tragedy from Boeing. 

A 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashed on Monday minutes after taking off from Jakarta, bound for Pangkal Pinang city, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. 

American Airlines said that it currently has 15 737 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet but no action is currently being taken.

A spokesperson said: “American Airlines extends our condolences to the families and friends of those on board Lion Air 610. We continue to closely monitor the investigation via Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board.

“We always inspect our fleet of more than 1,500 aircraft in accordance with U.S. government regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets very strict guidelines for all U.S. commercial carriers when it comes to the safe operation and inspection of U.S. aircraft.”

WestJet also revealed that it has nine Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet. A representative for the Canadian carrier said that the airline has not yet been informed by Boeing or the regulator that “any action is required or warranted”.

Tui said: “We are in constant contact with Boeing and we will continue to monitor the situation. So far the reason for the accident is still under investigation and we have no indication to believe that we can’t operate this aircraft type the same safe way we do with all our planes.

“We operate five Boeing 737 Max 8 planes – four in Belgium and one in Scandinavia. All of them have been operating reliable and we had a smooth entry-into-service in January this year when the first plane was delivered.”

Other airlines that have invested in the 737 Max 8 – which flew commercially for the first time last year – include Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, Air China, Jet Airways, Norwegian Air, Oman Air and Southwest Airlines.

Ryanair said it doesn’t currently operate the 737 Max 8, but it does have 25 on order for spring 2019. The Lion Air plane crashed minutes after taking off and plunged into the sea from 5,000ft.

The pilot and co-pilot had more than 11,000 hours flying time between them and had undergone recent medical checkups and drug testing, the carrier said.

On its last flight – JT610 – the jet was travelling at a much faster speed than would be expected, but the pilot did not declare an emergency or attempt a water landing.

“That might mean the plane was out of control,” said aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo. Aviation experts said it was too early to determine what caused the accident.

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