After an Indonesian airliner crashed into the Java Sea on Monday, leaving all 189 people on board feared dead, some are asking whether the model of plane — one used commonly by Canadian airlines — is safe. Experts seem to agree that it is.
Lion Air Flight 610 was headed to the Pangkal Pinang when it crashed about 13 minutes into the flight.
Investigators are still trying to find out what happened. What’s known is that the experienced pilots reported some kind of problem with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to air traffic control before a steep descent.
Reports also suggest that the plane in question had experienced some kind of problem on its previous flight, but that it had been resolved.
Aviation analyst Phyl Durdey told CTV News Channel that it shouldn’t raise concerns about the 737 MAX 8, which he calls the “latest and greatest” version of “the most successful airplane in the world.”
“They say that somewhere in the world, every five seconds a 737 either takes off or lands,” Durdey said, adding that it has a stellar record after more than 50 years in operation.
“This plane is so reliable,” he added.
Seth Miller, an aviation analyst with PaxEx.aero, said that although the 737 MAX 8 has a newer wing design and larger engines than older 737s, there’s no reason to believe it’s any less safe.
“There are some new things about (the 737 MAX) but it has been flying safely and successfully for a few years now,” he told CTV News Channel.
Miller isn’t ruling out that something may have gone wrong with that particular plane, however. Data suggests that the plane’s speed was “not steady” and “it could either be the system is mismatched and it’s unsure what it’s reporting, or actual problems with the thrust on the airplane,” Miller explained.
Determining exactly what actually happened will require examining logs, listening to transcripts from air traffic control, and poring over the flight data and voice recordings once recovered, Miller said.
The 737 MAX 8 went into service in May 2017. Southwest Airlines flies the most, with 23 in its fleet. Air Canada has the second most with 18. WestJet and Sunwing also fly the plane.
Air Canada said in a statement that its “thoughts and prayers are with those touched by this tragedy” and that they have “not received any directives from the manufacturers at this time.”
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said the government is watching the investigation “very, very closely,” adding that it’s “really premature for us to take any action.”
Keith Mackey, an aviation consultant, said he doubts the 737 MAX 8 has any design deficiencies.
“I think you can take any manufacturing fault out of the equation,” he told CTV News Channel. “Of course, that can change.”