737 Max 8 still landing at Trinidad airport

A global map depicting several countries where the Boeing 737 Max 8 has been grounded following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday.

(Trinidad Guardian) Even as dozens of coun­tries around the world im­posed re­stric­tions on the Boe­ing 737 Max 8, Amer­i­can Air­lines con­tin­ues to op­er­ate the air­craft on its routes be­tween T&T and the Unit­ed States on Tues­day.

This was cause for con­cern among pas­sen­gers at Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port who were booked on Amer­i­can Air­lines flights.

Some of them said they are wor­ried about their safe­ty and com­plained that the air­line had not been up­front with them about the sit­u­a­tion.

The Max 8 is at the cen­tre of a grow­ing glob­al ban by more than 40 coun­tries fol­low­ing a sec­ond fa­tal crash, this time in Ethiopia, in less than five months. The Ethiopi­an dis­as­ter came just five months af­ter the dead­ly crash of an­oth­er new Boe­ing 737 Max 8 op­er­at­ed by Li­on Air in In­done­sia.

Pre­lim­i­nary in­for­ma­tion re­leased by In­done­sian in­ves­ti­ga­tors sug­gests they are look­ing at the pos­si­ble role of the Max’s new au­to­mat­ed an­ti-stall tech­nol­o­gy as a fac­tor in a Li­on Air crash, in Oc­to­ber, short­ly af­ter take­off from Jakar­ta. Da­ta in­di­cates that the pi­lots strug­gled with re­peat­ed nose-down com­mands from the plane be­fore it crashed in­to the Ja­va Sea and killed 189 peo­ple.

How­ev­er, Amer­i­can Air­lines of­fi­cials yes­ter­day ex­pressed con­fi­dence in the air­wor­thi­ness of their fleet. In re­sponse to emailed ques­tions from Guardian Me­dia, of­fi­cials at the air­line’s head­quar­ters in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Unit­ed States, said: “At this time there are no facts on the cause of the ac­ci­dent oth­er than news re­ports.”

The air­line said in its state­ment, “Our flight, flight ser­vice, tech ops and safe­ty teams, along with the Al­lied Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion (APA) and As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­fes­sion­al Flight At­ten­dants (AP­FA), will close­ly mon­i­tor the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Ethiopia, which is our stan­dard pro­to­col for any air­craft ac­ci­dent.”

The air­line said they con­tin­ue to col­lab­o­rate with the FAA and oth­er reg­u­la­to­ry au­thor­i­ties, as the safe­ty of our team mem­bers and cus­tomers is our num­ber one pri­or­i­ty, and as­sured that their crew mem­bers are the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced in the in­dus­try.

Since the Ethiopi­an Air­lines crash on Sun­day, sev­er­al air­lines have stopped us­ing the Boe­ing 737 Max 8, in­clud­ing Gol Air­lines of Brazil, Cay­man Air­ways, Ethiopi­an Air­ways, Jet Air­ways of In­dia, Aeromex­i­co, Nor­we­gian Air Shut­tle, Turk­ish Air­lines, Eas­t­ar Jet of South Ko­rea, Smartwings of the Czech Re­pub­lic and LOT of Poland.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, Ramesh Lutch­me­di­al, an avi­a­tion safe­ty con­sul­tant and for­mer Di­rec­tor Gen­er­al of the Civ­il Avi­a­tion Au­thor­i­ty (CAA), said it was pre­ma­ture to com­ment as “there is no con­clu­sive ev­i­dence” on what caused the Li­on Air and Ethiopi­an Air­lines crash­es, both of which in­volved Max 8 air­craft.

T&T is cus­to­di­an of the Pi­ar­co Flight In­for­ma­tion Re­gion (FIR) which en­com­pass­es 750,000 square miles of air­space that is host to nine states and 24 in­ter­na­tion­al aero­dromes. With a de­ci­sion still pend­ing as to whether the air­craft will be banned from this coun­try’s air­space, Lutch­me­di­al said any de­ci­sion made will not on­ly af­fect T&T but the mem­ber states that op­er­ate with­in the Pi­ar­co FIR—An­tigua, Guade­loupe, Do­mini­ca, Mar­tinique, St Lu­cia, St Vin­cent and the Grenadines, Bar­ba­dos and Grena­da.

He said the de­ci­sion will on­ly be made if there is a just cause for do­ing so and will re­quire sanc­tion­ing from the Min­is­ter of Works and Trans­port Ro­han Sinanan.

In a state­ment in the Sen­ate yes­ter­day, Sinanan said the CAA is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and he will be guid­ed by their ad­vice.

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