Ethiopian Airlines crash: Travellers worried about Boeing 737 Max 8 plane safety, some afraid to board

Boeing employees stand in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Washington, US, on March 13, 2018.
Boeing employees stand in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Washington, US, on March 13, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Passenger confidence in Boeing's 737 Max 8 has taken a hit after the jet's second fatal crash in just five months.

Travellers around the world took to social media to express fears about the plane's safety - or seek reassurance from carriers that fly it.

On Sunday (March 10), an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed after leaving Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. Some flyers said they were now too fearful to board one of those planes.

One customer at Southwest Airlines, which has more 737 Max 8 jets on order than any other carrier, changed flights to another aircraft after discovering the plane was a 737 Max 8.

Another asked if Air Canada was doing extra checks on its Max 8 fleet.

The disaster followed the plunge of a Lion Air 737 Max 8 into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Oct 29. A preliminary report into that crash, which killed 189 passengers and crew, indicated pilots struggled to maintain control following an equipment malfunction.

Connecting the two incidents, social media users expressed concerns to carriers that operate or have ordered the Max 8, from Ryanair and Garuda to Fiji Airways and Norwegian Air.

 
 
 

Already in China, the authorities grounded the country's entire fleet of 737 Max 8 planes, while Cayman Airways, the flag carrier of the Cayman Islands, suspended operations of both its Max 8 aircraft.

Any widespread veto by flyers would put extra pressure on Boeing.

In response, Southwest and Icelandair were among the airlines to back their choice of aircraft. Boeing has said it is preparing to send a technical team to assist the accident investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines plane, which was delivered new in November.

Icelandair said the 737 Max 8 carries out around 1,000 trips a day worldwide. The airline has three of the aircraft and has never had an incident, it said.