MAX 8 not operational for more than 90 days

One of the Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft at Nadi International Airport. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

FIJI Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft have not been in operation for more than 90 days after a decision was made to ground them in March after the crash of an Ethiopia Airlines 737 MAX 8 which claimed the lives of 157 people.

As a result of the accident and a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash five months earlier, airlines and countries around the world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Boeing has said it could take 58,000 hours to get all grounded aircraft back into service and 150 hours of work to get each B737 MAX 8 software upgraded, aircraft tested and checked — exclusive of pilot training.

The Fiji Times contacted Fiji Airways and enquired about compensation for the hours its two B737 MAX 8s have spent on the ground and contingencies for the financing of the aircraft.

This newspaper also queried whether Boeing had contacted the national carrier about the proposed software upgrades and pilot training required to get the aircraft operational again.

In response, Fiji Airways said there had been ongoing discussions with the United States aircraft manufacturer.

“Our operations team have been in regular contact with Boeing regarding the software updates and are confident in the enhancements being introduced,” an airline spokesperson said.

“Safety is our number one priority, and as an airline we go over and above regulatory training requirements to maintain our exceptional safety standards.

“All our 737 pilots undertook rigorous simulator training prior to the introduction of the Max 8 and further simulator training is planned to ensure our team are completely across the software changes.”

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