Ombudsman official demands grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia after Ethiopia crash

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres south-east of Addis Ababa, on March 10, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An aviation expert who is also an official at the Indonesian Ombudsman, Alvin Lie, demanded that the Indonesian government ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that were still operating for Indonesian airlines following a fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday (March 10).

The crash killed all 149 passengers and eight crew. The plane came down about 60km southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot had alerted controllers "he had difficulties" and wanted to turn back to Addis Ababa. The plane crashed six minutes after take-off and was on a routine flight to Nairobi.

Alvin, who is also a former legislator, said the Transportation Ministry should pay attention to the latest accident in Ethiopia, as the aircraft involved in the accident was the same model as the one that crashed near Jakarta in late October last year, killing all 189 people on board.

"The ministry should be ready to temporarily ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 that are still operating in Indonesia in order to prevent more accidents," Alvin told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Garuda Indonesia has one Boeing 737 Max 8 while Lion Air has 14 Boeing 737 Max series aircraft, including the Max 8 that crashed last year.

According to Boeing's website, the company, as of Jan 31, had received 5,111 orders of Boeing 737 Max series aircraft, and had delivered 350 to various airlines globally. It has received an order of 50 Max series from Garuda Airlines, but only delivered one, a Max 8 in 2017. Flight news website reported that the company had deferred the deliveries of the remaining 49 until 2020.

Lion Air has ordered 201 of the Max series.

The Transportation Ministry's air transportation director general, Polana B. Pramesti, was not immediately available on Sunday for comment.

Swedish flight tracker tweeted on Sunday that the available data showed that Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-302's vertical speed was unstable after takeoff.

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