Virgin Australia pilots have leapt to the defense of Boeing and the 737 as the world’s largest planemaker comes under pressure to calm the nerves of travelers in the wake of the Ethiopian disaster on Sunday.
Yesterday China grounded all its new 737 MAX aircraft as questions are raised about the similarities of Sundays’ crash and the loss of a similar Lion Air aircraft last October despite that accident apparently maintenance and pilot-related.
While no 737 MAX aircraft operate in Australia Virgin Australia will start taking delivery of the first of an order for 30 later this year to be operated across its network including Perth and on intrastate routes.
Yesterday, the Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA), president Captain John Lyons (ret) said: “VIPA continues to have the utmost confidence in the Boeing 737 and the rigorous training that Virgin Australia provides its pilots.”
“We look forward to its introduction at Virgin Australia as it brings outstanding commercial advantages to the airline and enhanced customer appeal,” said Captain Lyon
“Boeing has delivered more than 10,000 737 aircraft since it first flew in 1967, accumulating nearly 300 million flight hours.”
The fallout from the two crashes has forced the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer to cancel tomorrow’s global unveil of its flagship Boeing 777X.
The challenge now for Boeing is to get answers quickly to either exonerate the 737MAX or install a fix to rectify any problem.
But that is not going to be easy as the 737 was disintegrated on impact and the plane’s two black boxes may be severely damaged.
However, after the Lion Air crash Boeing and the US regulator, the FAA, conducted a review of the 737MAX and its system and have made no changes other to remind pilots about existing procedures.
After the Lion Air crash, one of the world’s largest airlines United pointed the finger at Indonesian airline.
Oscar Munoz United’s chief executive said that his pilots don’t need any additional training on the new MAX because its pilots are prepared to respond to problems that might surface with automated systems on modern planes.
“When any trouble arises, our pilots are trained to fly the damn aircraft, period,” Munoz told reporters in December.
He added that pilots are taught to disconnect automated systems, fly the plane by hand, and gain altitude to buy time while they troubleshoot problems.
Mr. Munoz added that the Boeing 737 MAX “is safe and reliable.”