South Africa: Ethiopian Airlines Crash - Comair Pulls New Boeing 737-8 Max Out of Service

A Boeing 737 MAX in Toronto.

Comair has decided to remove its 737 MAX from its flight schedule.

The airline said neither regulatory authorities nor the manufacturer has required it to do so. The plane was in service for British Airways flights between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

The airline came under fire, after three other international airlines removed the contentious plane model from service following the fatal crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday. Boeing's newest plane, the 737-8 Max jet, is under scrutiny for safety concerns after another incident less than six months ago with the same model.

Ethiopia, Indonesia and China have all suspended its 8 Max fleets. China's Aviation Authority grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes used by domestic airlines.

Wrenelle Stander, executive director of Comair's airline division, said on Monday afternoon, "While Comair has done extensive preparatory work prior to the introduction of the first 737-8 Max into its fleet and remains confident in the inherent safety of the aircraft, it has decided temporarily not to schedule the aircraft while it consults with other operators, Boeing and technical experts."

"The safety and confidence of our customers and crew is always our priority," Stander said.

Boeing has confirmed there are about 330 of the 737-8 Max planes in operation globally, with Comair and Air Mauritania being the only two African airlines, besides Ethiopian who have the Max as part of its fleet.

Black box found

While investigators have not determined the cause but have since found the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

The incident is similar to the case of the Indonesian Lion Air flight, in which pilots wrestled with the plane's "faulty sensor and automatic feature sent its nose pointing down while the pilots struggled to lift the plane up".

The similarities are that both were new Boeing 737-8 Max airplanes and the incidents occurred in the take-off phase.

Both cockpit crew had requested permission to return to the airport shortly after take-off.

The company's chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, said Sunday there were six planes in the fleet and initially the decision had been not to suspend them. The airline has however done so as an extra precautionary measure.

Source: Traveller24

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