11 Mar 2019

Fiji Airways confident in aircraft safety despite Ethiopia crash

3:55 pm on 11 March 2019

Fiji Airways says it has full confidence in the airworthiness of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

Fiji masi design Fiji Airways

Fiji masi design Fiji Airways Photo: Alex Perrottet/RNZ

The model is under scrutiny after two fatal crashes in five months, the latest an Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed on Sunday killing all 157 people on board.

Fiji Airways operates two of the narrow-body aircraft and has three more due for delivery this year.

The airline said it followed a comprehensive induction process for the aircraft.

"We have full confidence in the airworthiness of our fleet. We continue to ensure that our maintenance and training programme for pilots and engineers meets the highest safety standards," the airline said in a statement.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is, and always will be, our number one priority.

"We are incredibly saddened to hear of the tragic accident involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and are following the situation closely.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to everyone affected and our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

The Ethiopian Airlines jet was delivered in November last year and the airline tweeted it had undergone rigorous first check maintenance.

In October, a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesia's Lion Air crashed after taking off from Jakarta with the loss of 189 lives.

Investigators said pilots appeared to have struggled with a new anti-stalling system.

Meanwhile, China's domestic airlines are reported to have temporarily grounded the aircraft.

Cayman Airways has grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets until more information is received, according to a statement on its website.

About 40 airlines worldwide are operating the aircraft.