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Despite global concern, Air Peace says it’s premature to cancel order for 10 new B737 MAX aircraft



Despite global concerns raised about the technical functionality and safety of Boeing 737-MAX 800 airplanes in the wake Sunday’s crash of the Ethiopian Airlines killing all 157 passengers on board, Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, says it has no immediate plan to cancel its order for ten of the aircraft’s model for its fleet.

Following last Sunday’s ill-fated crash, China’s aviation regulator on Monday swiftly grounded all its 96 Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said all Chinese airlines were ordered to suspend their use of the 737 MAX 8 model of aircraft by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Monday.

The aircraft is the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrowbody introduced into service in 2017.

But, since the introduction of the model by Boeing, indications are that Sunday’s crash involving the Ethiopian Airline was the second of the 737 MAX 8.

The first incident was in October, 2018 when a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesian budget carrier, Lion Air, crashed 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a domestic flight, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.

With such concerns, of its 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, the Ethiopian Airlines promptly ordered the rest of their carrier in its fleet of the jets to be grounded immediately.

Ethiopian Airlines said the decision will remain till further notice as an “extra safety precaution” even though it did not know the cause of Sunday’s crash.

By the end of January, Boeing said it has delivered about 350 of the 737 MAX family jets to customers around the world, with another 4,661 on order.

Perhaps, the undelivered order includes ten ordered by Air Peace to boost its fleet.

But, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday quoted the airline’s spokesperson, Chris Iwarah, as saying its management was not contemplating any decision about canceling the order. He described any such decision as premature.

Iwarah said the airline will continue to act in the interest of the safety of the flying public.

He said the multi-million dollar deal signed between Air Peace and the American aircraft manufacturer, The Boeing Company, on September 13, 2018 for the delivery of 10 brand new B737 MAX 800 aircraft was still on.

“At this moment, it is premature to begin to talk about things and conclusions that have not been put in the public domain.

“Investigations into the crashes involving B737Max 800 are ongoing. So, it will not be fair at this time to begin to make definite comments on those issues.

“We are still in the domain of investigation. But, we want to assure the public that we are following the development very closely,” he said.

The Air Peace spokesperson said the airline had not yet taken delivery of the ordered aircraft, adding that before then issues surrounding its safety must have been identified by global aviation experts.

“We also trust that Boeing is capable of responding to the issues technically. They have the capacity to respond to that.

“I want to say clearly that we will not engage in anything that will jeopardize the lives and safety of our passengers. There is no basis for talking about canceling the order.

“Any step we take now will be premature until investigations are concluded. So, we are following the investigations very closely to ensure that at the end of the day only the right thing is done.

“Whatever steps we take will be in line with what favours safety and what is in the interest of our passengers,” Iwarah said

He further explained the B737 Max Air were “suspended” by those already operating the equipment to enable investigation run its course.

“If investigation runs its course and they feel that there is nothing to be worried about, they will lift that suspension and continue to operate the aircraft but on our part, we have not even taken delivery.

“We are currently working with Boeing, we are also asking questions and following all developments because we are a safety conscious airline,” Iwarah added. (Additional report from NAN)

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