Suspend intended CAL lease of Boeing aircraft, T&T Opposition urges

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The main Opposition United National Congress (UNC) yesterday urged the Trinidad and Tobago Government to “take immediate action to suspend” the intended lease of 12 of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which has been involved in two fatal crashes over the past six months.

The latest incident occurred on Sunday when Ethiopian Airlines' Flight 302 crashed soon after take-off, killing all 149 passengers and the eight-member crew. The digital flight data recorder from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, has since been located.

In a statement, the UNC said it was calling on the Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, who has responsibility for the civil aviation authority, “to do as other countries have done and implement a ban on airlines utilising this particular aircraft as a precautionary measure.

“While the UNC understands investigations into the latest fatal crash are still being conducted, it must be noted that several airlines and aviation authorities worldwide have either grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet or have restricted the aircraft model from entering or exiting their airspace,” the party said.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in a statement that it was suspending operations of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft across Europe.

It said it would also ban all commercial flights by third-country operators in its airspace.

“EASA is continuously analysing the data as it becomes available. The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident,” it said.

The State-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL), in an updated statement since the crash on Sunday, said the accident has raised speculative concern regarding the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft.

“The airline industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world, and there are rigorous processes and regulatory procedures to follow before any aircraft is brought into service. Caribbean Airlines will incorporate the procedural and training elements necessary to comply with all regulations and instructions before any new aircraft is introduced to its fleet.”

CAL said that it currently “does not have the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft as part of its fleet” and that it uses the Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft.

“Caribbean Airlines stands by its commitment to put the safety of its passengers, crew and operations,” it said in the statement.

Boeing, in a statement yesterday, said that while safety is its number one priority, it has “full confidence in the safety of the MAX.

“We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We'll continue to engage with all of them to ensure they have the information they need to have confidence in operating their fleets or returning them to service.

“It is also important to note that the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time and, based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” the aircraft manufacturer added.

The UNC said that while CAL “has assured that safety checks would be made prior to putting all aircraft into service, the Government should hold on spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the Boeing 737 Max 8 until investigations are completed”.


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