Earlier, Boeing had announced that it would ground its entire fleet of 737 Max aircraft. The use of the 371 passenger planes was suspended after fresh evidence and satellite data emerged indicating that the Ethiopian Airlines crash was very similar to the Lion Air incident.
Sputnik has talked about the halting of Boeing 737 Max 8 flights with Dr. Konstantinos Kalligiannis, an aviation expert and Founder & Managing Director of K.K. Aviation.
Sputnik: What can you say about the way that Boeing, the FAA, and various countries' aviation authorities have handled this incident?
But I think this is the correct approach. If it is aviation, safety is number one; it shouldn't be compensated with any other elements, either commercial or brand, or whatever.
Sputnik: So now we have this massive grounding of Boeing planes. Can you talk about how this is going to affect the company, Boeing, how it's going to affect airlines and how long do you think we can expect this to last? How long is needed to at least get a basic investigation done to determine that the plane is indeed flightworthy?
Konstantinos Kalligiannis: These are all excellent questions. Regarding your last question, how long it will take, I cannot comment [on this] because currently both events are under investigation, and you have the respective aircraft accident investigation boards that are dealing with them.
So, I cannot comment. I don't know how long it will take, but I'm sure that all authorities will just remove the restriction when the aircraft is 100 percent safe to fly again. In comparison to what the implications are in terms of the airlines, of course, the airlines that have a higher number of these aircraft will be affected more in terms of rescheduling; and also it will create not just safety on its own but also the perception of safety.
That's also something that Boeing, the authorities and everybody involved in aviation should also consider, because passengers may think that aviation is not safe, or that it is not as safe as they thought it is.
Sputnik: That isn't the case though, is it? Or do you feel that it is not as safe as we thought it was?
And you see there have been cases like it in the past: in 2013, with the [Boeing 787] Dreamliner, that had a fault in its battery. So it was also the case and this particular aircraft was grounded by the FAA for three months. And then the fault was corrected and the aircraft was airworthy again.
Sputnik: What can you tell us about the 737 MAX 8 model? I believe there is also a MAX 9 model, [which is] slightly elongated. Maybe you could tell us about this whole line of 737 MAX 8s, 9s; what is special about them? Why are they more complicated than other Boeing models? Why do you think we are seeing this problem?
Konstantinos Kalligiannis: That's a very good question. I cannot answer it because I don't want to be perceived as promoting one particular aircraft type compared to another. But I can comment that the Boeing 737 series, overall, is a very successful aircraft. I mean, it's the aircraft type with the highest number of aircraft models in the world; it's considered the work horse of the low-cost airlines.
Currently, for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 there are more than 5,000 orders; there have been more than 350 aircraft delivered during the past year alone because actually it was certified by the FAA only [two years] ago, on 8 March 2017. So, it's a huge commercial success; but even huge commercial successes can have some failures that need to be rectified.
Sputnik: Donald Trump said that airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. In the old days we didn't have all this software; we had more sort of this mechanical […] I mean it wasn't as complicated as this. And actually in the Lion Air incident, there was some concern that it was, in fact, a software situation; it wasn't even the software itself, it was actually the way that software was deployed by the crew that could have led to events that led to the accident. What can you say about that? Perhaps there needs to be more training? Are we getting such difficult planes now, such complex technology, that you need to know much more than you used to have to know?
Konstantinos Kalligiannis: It's another excellent question. I totally disagree with President Trump; of course, politicians can make different comments based on their political mindset and what the audience wants to hear. However, technology is something that is embraced by the aviation industry; it's a fast-evolving high-tech industry and every development is more than welcome.
All aircraft involved in aviation [include] a human error factor included in the chain of bad events; so, definitely, training should continue to happen and [there should be] more checks. That's the only way forward.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.