After the death of all 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight following a crash of the craft soon after takeoff involving a Boeing 737 Max 8, there is intense pressure and controversy on the U.S. plane manufacturer because of the similarity of the accident with another fatal accident about five months ago and also involving a 737 Max 8 of Lion Air in Indonesia. All of the people on board that craft were also killed when the plane crashed into the sea.
However, even as dozens of countries and airlines across the world have grounded the 737 Max 8s, and despite the safety concerns surrounding the craft throughout the aviation world, Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific is apparently “very happy” with its Boeing fleet, said its CEO on Thursday.
“About 50-50” of the fleet of the airline comprises of Boeing and Airbus planes which include models like the Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and A330, said the company’s CEO Rupert Hogg in a television interview. The airline however does not operate any Boeing 737 Max models.
“It is a tragedy, but we’re very happy with both sets of aircraft that we have,” Hogg said, while referring to the deadly crash of Sunday of the Ethiopian Airlines craft. .
The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in which all of the 149 people on board were killed shortly after taking off is the second such fatal crash involving the craft of the same model in less than five months time. In October last year, 189 people on board a Lion Air flight of Indonesia were killed after the plane crashed into the sea soon after taking off from Jakarta.
Sunday’s crash raised concerns and questions about the safety of flying the Boeing 737 Max and saw dozens of governments, regulators and airlines from Europe to Asia to the United States, grounding the crafts and even banning the crafts flying within their air space even as airlines scrambled to calm the nerves of travellers. Similarities between the two fatal accidents on Wednesday were cited by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
The popular 737 Max planes were also temporarily banned with effect from Wednesday by Hong Kong’s aviation authorities.
Hogg emphasized that “safety is the number one priority in our industry”, despite the concerns. “The induction of any new aeroplane is part of a safety management system and a safety management plan, and it’s very, very vigorous, and it starts very early on,” he said.
Hogg said the airline is “already in discussion on every aspect of that aircraft joining our fleet, with Boeing and others at the moment” while referring to the new Boeing 777-9X that Cathay Pacific intends to roll out as part of its future long-haul fleet.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)