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Grounding of Boeing aircraft the right move

The move follows a second fatal crash of the plane model in less than five months. These tragic incidents warrant a serious review of the safety standards of this model of aircraft.

EDITORIAL: Grounding of Boeing aircraft the right move

A SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (background) is parked on the tarmac of Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 12, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

The decision by several countries to suspend operations of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their airspaces, following a second fatal crash of the plane model in less than five months, is a welcome move as it is likely to boost customer confidence in flight safety. Germany, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, China and Indonesia have all taken the drastic step following Sunday’s tragic incident in which an Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet plunged to the ground, killing all 157 people aboard. Only months ago, in October 2018, another Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by Lion Air went down shortly after take-off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.These tragic incidents warrant a serious review of the safety standards of this model of aircraft. Although the 737 MAX variant has become popular globally, mainly on the strength of its low fuel consumption credentials, its safety standards should be audited afresh to limit the risk of widespread fatalities across the globe.

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With some 4,661 orders of the model yet to be delivered to airlines, the model’s projected impact on global air travel is certainly major, hence the need to ensure its safety standards are beyond reproach. It is only fair that any operating aircraft is of sound condition irrespective of where it operates from.All airlines which already own fleets of the Boeing 737 MAX or have placed orders for the model should exercise precaution and limit the use of this particular aircraft until its safety standards are fully ascertained and any problems fixed and where there is need to retrain pilots, this must be done as a priority.The aircraft’s manufacturers should treat the decision by a host of countries and airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX as an opportunity to strengthen its business by addressing any safety doubts on its products.Findings of the investigations of the two fatal accidents involving the aircraft model should be used to improve its features to win the confidence of airlines and passengers alike.Regulators across the world also have an opportunity to review the general safety of all equipment operated by the various airlines to ensure safer travel. The safety audits should not be limited to the Boeing planes alone; it should be extended to all other types of aircraft.

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