Virgin Australia seems, for the moment, to be retaining its order for 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8s despite the aircraft’s involvement in two fatal crashes within a six-month period.
A spokesperson for Virgin Australia told news.com.au that it was too early to comment on whether they’ll move forward with the order, which was placed back in 2012 and due for delivery starting later this year.
Concerns over the safety of the aircraft were raised after Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 8, crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya. All 157 people on board were killed in the tragic accident.
The crash came less than six months after a Lion Air flight, also operated by the Boeing 737 MAX 8, went down into the Java Sea, 13 minutes after taking off.
Leaders in China, Indonesia and Cayman Islands responded to the latest incident by temporarily grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 until it is proven safe enough to fly.
China’s Civil Aviation Administration said the two accidents have “some degree of similarity”, including the same aircraft and occurring during the take-off phase.
Despite growing safety concerns, Virgin Australia pilots told news.com.au that they have the “utmost confidence” in the aircraft.
President of the Virgin Independent Pilots Association, Captain John Lyons, said the airline has provided “rigorous training” for pilots and they look forward to introducing the plane to the fleet.
“We look forward to its introduction at Virgin Australia as it brings outstanding commercial advantages to the airline and enhanced customer appeal.”
John Lyons, Virgin Independent Pilots Association President
US-based operators of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, including Southwest Airlines, shared John’s confidence in the aircraft, saying that they “remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of its fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft”.
- READ: No survivors in Ethiopian Airlines crash
- READ: China orders domestic airlines to ground the 737 MAX 8
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