Nairobi has permitted Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia to resume flights in Kenya’s airspace after the ill-fated plane receive clearance to restart operations.
Ethiopian Airlines has announced that it may resume flights on the model this year July after grounding the aircraft for over a year. This followed the early 2019 crash as the aircraft was flying to Nairobi, just months after another one of the similar type plunged into the sea in Indonesia.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director-General Gilbert Kibe said airlines, including Ethiopian carrier is free to fly back the Boeing 737 Max into Kenya’s airspace after Boeing resolved the defaults that led to air mishaps involving the model.
“The airlines are free to fly Boeing 737 Max to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there are no restrictions that we are going to impose,” said Mr Kibe.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest, has said it will retain orders for new Max planes and according to chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam who spoke during a conference last week, it would have been economically unfeasible to switch aircraft types given it already operates an older 737 variant.
“We have made a thorough analysis — technically, operationally, and commercially — and we decided to continue with the airplane,” Mr Tewolde said.
Countries including United Arab Emirates, the UK, Canada and a host of other states in Europe have lifted the ban and allowed the aircraft to operate on their airspace. Like many African carriers, Kenya Airways was betting on the Boeing 737 Max 8 series to replace its retiring fleet of 737-700 in expansion bid.
This is mainly because the planes are not too small or too big, in addition to being fuel-efficient
The national carrier was considering buying Boeing 737 Max 8 even before the two accidents, as it is the only series in the Boeing family that it could acquire.
“The only option that we have planned for is the Boeing 737 Max 8 because this will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” said Mr Joseph in an interview with the Business Daily in 2019.
“We hope that between now and by the time when we are ready for acquiring the new fleet Boeing would have solved the current problem,” he added.
Boeing 737 Max 8 has been one of Boeing’s bestselling aircrafts after delivering over 370 planes since 2017, with placed orders of about 5,000 before the two accidents.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 had faulty sensors, which sent wrong information to the aircraft computer.
The Angel of Attack Sensor sensors send information to the plane's computers about the position of the plane's nose relative to the airflow over and under the wings to help determine whether the plane is about to stall.