Distraught family members of the victims involved in the plane crash. Picture: AP
Distraught family members of the victims involved in the plane crash. Picture: AP

Virgin has fatal crash jet on order

VIRGIN Australia is expected to take delivery later this year of the first of a new Boeing passenger jet that is being questioned over its safety after a second fatal crash.

A new Boeing 737 Max 8 that had just been delivered to Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 passengers on board.

It is the same model aircraft operated by Indonesian Lion Air that crashed into the sea just after takeoff last October killing 189 people on board.

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 parked at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Picture: AP.
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 parked at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Picture: AP.

 

 

Virgin Australia today confirmed it had 30 of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on order with the first due to be delivered at the end of the year.

An order for a further 10 Max 8 jets had been changed to the newer Max 10 model. The spokesman said "it is far too early" to comment on the latest crash. Qantas and Jetstar do not operate the plane or have any on order.

Safety experts are now investigating the plane after similarities between the two crashes emerged.

 

Wreckage found at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff. Picture: AP
Wreckage found at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff. Picture: AP

 

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the pilot of flight ET 302 had reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

"It is a brand-new aeroplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time," he said.

The plane disappeared from flight controller's screens just six minutes after takeoff. The Lion Air flight crashed 13 minutes after takeoff. Both airlines have excellent safety records.

However pilots in the US have raised concern about a new computerised anti-stall system built into the jets that is designed to push the nose down if it thinks the jet is in danger of stalling.

The former inspector general of the US Transportation Department, Mary Schiavo, told CNN the similarities between the two crashes was " highly suspicious.

"Here we have a brand-new aircraft that's gone down twice in a year. That rings alarm bells in the aviation industry because that just doesn't happen," she said.


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