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AVIATION

No Boeing 737 Max Operating In Nigeria – Sirika

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As Nigeria joins the rest of the world in mourning the victims of the unfortunate crash of the  Ethiopian airlines, Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has assured Nigerians that the nation does not currently have any Boeing 737 Max on its register, and therefore no cause for concern.

The Minister, in a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, James Odaudu, said “aviation is one the world over, and that any accident anywhere is a tragedy to the global aviation industry. Nigeria identifies and commiserates  with the Ethiopian aviation authorities those who have lost loved ones, including two distinguished Nigerians, in their moment of grief.”

Praying for the repose of the souls of the victims of the air mishap, Sirika assures the Nigerian flying public of the unalloyed commitment of the President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration to the creation of an environment that guarantees their safety and security in air transportation.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the industry regulator in Nigeria, has issued the necessary advisory as it relates to the country, the Minister also confirmed.

According to home, “As we continue to mourn the ET crash in Addis, and pray for the victims, we wish to reassure Nigerians that we do not have any Boeing 737 Max on Nigeria’s register to worry about. Civil Aviation Authority has issued the needed advisory.”

Meanwhile, the Management of Air Peace Airline had thought it imperative to clarify that Air Peace recently placed a firm order for 10 brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

According to the airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Chris Iwarah “we are, however, yet to take delivery of the aircraft as we are still at the design and configuration stage of the order.

“This clarification has become necessary in view of numerous calls and enquiries on our response to the incidents involving the B737 Max 8 aircraft.

Although it is premature to comment  on the incidents, we wish  to assure members of the flying public that we are closely following and monitoring developments on the issue as an airline that prioritises the safety and well-being of our customers.

“While we keep engaging with our partners in this regard, we repose implicit confidence in Boeing and aviation authorities to capably and satisfactorily address all the issues if at the conclusion of ongoing investigations it is discovered that the challenge is with the B737 Max 8.”

Meanwhile, Britain, France, and Germany yesterday joined a growing list of countries to ban Boeing 737 MAX planes from their airspace as airlines around the world grounded the jets following a second deadly accident in just five months.

The widening airspace closures puts pressure on Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, to prove 737 MAX planes are safe as increasing numbers of fleets have been grounded. Turkish Airlines was among the latest to announce it was suspending its 12 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from flying from Wednesday, until “uncertainty” was clarified.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, South Korea’s Eastar Jet and South Africa’s Comair also said they would halt flights, but the full extent of the impact on international travel routes was unclear.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump weighed in on the probe investigating the Ethiopian Airlines crash, writing: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly.”

“Pilot are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” he wrote, referring to the prestigious university in Massachusetts. US carriers have so far appeared to maintain confidence in Boeing, which has said it is certain the planes are safe to fly.

US federal aviation authorities, the FAA, have not grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft but have ordered the manufacturer to make design changes. The move was not enough to reassure the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which said in a statement headlined “Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft” that it was banning the planes from UK airspace “as a precautionary measure”.

Global air travel hub Singapore, as well as Australia, Malaysia and Oman were among the other countries to ban all 737 MAX planes from their airspace. China, a hugely important market for Boeing, had already ordered domestic airlines to suspend operations of the plane on Monday, as did Indonesia.

Elsewhere Argentina’s flag carrier also grounded five MAX 8 aircraft on Tuesday, as did airlines in countries including Brazil and Mexico. But several airlines said they were not cancelling MAX 8 flights.

“The Boeing 737 MAX is a highly sophisticated aircraft,” said India’s SpiceJet, which has 13 of the MAX 8 variants in its 75-strong fleet. It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world’s largest airlines are flying this aircraft,” it said in a statement.

Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. But not since the 1970s — when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 suffered successive fatal incidents — has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short period. The weekend crash sent Boeing shares nosediving as much as 12 percent on Monday, wiping billions of dollars off the market value of the company.

“I think the impact for the industry is significant,” said Gerry Soejatman, a Jakarta-based aviation analyst.

“We have a new type of aircraft — that type of aircraft has only been in service for two years — and… we have two accidents with seemingly similar circumstances.”

The plane involved in Sunday’s crash was less than four months old, with Ethiopian Airlines saying it was delivered on November 15.

It went down near the village of Tulu Fara, some 40 miles (60 kilometres) east of Addis Ababa.

Inhabitants of the remote area looked on from behind a security cordon as inspectors searched the crash site and excavated it with a mechanical digger.

Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot was given clearance to turn around after indicating problems shortly before the plane disappeared from radar.

The airline’s chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said the plane had flown in from Johannesburg early Sunday, spent three hours in Addis and was “dispatched with no remark”, meaning no problems were flagged.

Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders, which could potentially provide information about what happened, depending on their condition.

The crash cast a pall over a gathering of the UN Environment Programme as it opened in Nairobi — at least 22 staff from several UN agencies were on board the doomed flight.

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