Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa and killed 157 people on board - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia and China’s aviation regulator has told domestic airlines to suspend operation of Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft following the second deadly crash for the aircraft model in less than five months.

This policy was taken following the crash on Sunday of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 that killed all 157 people on board. This crash involved the same type of aircraft involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October that killed all 189 people on board.

Indonesian Directorate General of Air Transportation took steps to carry out inspections, prohibiting flying while airplanes of Boeing 737-8 MAX in Indonesia. This policy was taken to ensure that aircraft operating in Indonesia were in flight-worthy conditions.

“One of the steps that will be taken is to conduct a temporary grounded inspection, to ensure the condition of the aircraft is airworthy and the step has been approved by the Minister of Transportation,” said Director General of the agency Polana B. Pramesti on Monday (03/11).

Inspections will start as soon as tomorrow, March 12, 2019. If problems are found at the time of inspection, the aircraft will be prohibited from flying temporarily until it is declared complete by the flight inspector.

So far, supervision of the operation of Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft has been carried out since 30 October 2018 and after the JT610 accident, if a problem occurs or the findings of the aircraft inspection result are immediately grounded on the spot.

The agency continues to communicate with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to provide assurance that all Boeing 737 – 8 MAX aircraft operating in Indonesia are airworthy. The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive which has also been adopted in Indonesia and has been applied to all Indonesian aviation operators that operate the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

Currently, airlines operating such aircraft are one unit of PT Garuda Indonesia and 10 units of Lion Air. The FAA said that it would continue to communicate with the DGCA if further steps were needed to ensure airworthy conditions for the Boeing 737-8 MAX.

The agency has also received a direct statement from Boeing Co., where the manufacturing party said it would provide the latest information regarding the results of the Ethiopian Airlines accident investigation. Boeing Co. also ready to answer questions from Indonesia about the steps that need to be taken to ensure airworthy type of Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft.

Previously, the Civil Aviation Administration of China told airlines to suspend operation of the aircraft model on Monday. The administration said it had issued the notice to suspend commercial 737-8 flights as the two crashes both occurred during the take-off phase and had certain similarities. It said it will contact the United States (US) FAA and Boeing and will update airlines on when flights can resume.

Aviation industry officials have said it is too soon to say if there is a connection between the two crashes.

Air China took delivery of the country’s first 737-8 MAX at the end of 2017, with the aircraft maker adding that this was the first of almost 100 737 MAX to be delivered to Chinese companies by the end of 2018.

As reported, the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX with the ET-AVJ registration number for Nairobi fell on Sunday (03/10) morning.

Among a total of 157 passengers, 32 of whom were Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, and eight US citizens. The United Nations, which will host an environmental conference in Nairobi this week, said it lost 19 of its officials in the accident, one of them an Indonesian citizen.

Through the written statement of the Indonesian Embassy in Rome, Italy, the Indonesian citizen is a woman who lives in Rome and works for the World Food Program.

According to the Cirium Flight Global database, this aircraft was delivered on November 15 and is supported by two Leap-1B engines made by CFM International, a joint venture company of General Electric Co and Safran SA.

Although Africa has a relatively poor record of flight safety compared to global standards, Ethiopian Airlines is known to operate a modern fleet featuring the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus SE A350s, and 737 MAX.

According to the airline, the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX pilot, Yared Getachew, already has more than 8,000 flight hours, while the co-pilot Ahmed Nur Mohammod has spent around 200 hours flying. The plane itself has flown about 1.200 hours, explained CEO of Ethiopian Airlines.

But this raises new concerns about the security of the 737 MAX, less than two years after the popular slim model entered commercial services.

Any disruption to the 737 program could threaten the financial and reputation of Boeing as an aircraft manufacturer. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates, this aircraft model contributes nearly one third of the company’s operating profit.

“This is the most important plane in the line. If there is something bad with the 737 program, it will be a very serious challenge for the company,” said George Ferguson, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Boeing said it was preparing to send a technical team to help investigate the Ethiopian Airlines plane accident.

The aviation and transportation authorities of the US FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board also plan to work with the Ethiopian authorities in investigating the cause of the accident.

In the midst of widespread questions about the occurrence of the two deadly accidents in a short span of time, a number of aviation industry players warned not to draw conclusions early.

Some of the major airlines that operate the model even provide guarantees. “We have full trust in the aircraft and our crew, they are the best and most experienced in the industry,” said American Airlines Group Inc. in a statement. The parent of this well-known airline operates 24 of the MAX 8 models.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: