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Boeing Max 8 accidents put aviation reputation in the spotlight - industry expert

Jun 02 2019 13:01
Carin Smith
An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight

An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, comes in for landing at LaGuardia Airport on Monday morning, March 11, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Aviation safety is always a top priority and the numbers categorically show that flying is safe, an industry expert has assured.

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) spoke at the industry body’s 75th annual general meeting in Seoul, South Korea. He shared views on how the industry should treat fatal accidents. In 2018 there was one major accident for every 5.4 million flights. Over the last decade the fatal accident rate has improved by 59%, he explained.

"The recent Boeing Max accidents have, however, put aviation's reputation in the spotlight. Serious questions arise with two accidents of a new aircraft model in quick succession," said De Juniac.

Regulators grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 following two fatal accidents, which killed 346 people, Bloomberg reported previously.

"The consequences of these tragedies go far beyond the technical. Trust in the certification system has been damaged – among regulators, between regulators and the industry, and with the flying public," De Juniac said.

Asked whether Iata will be involved in a joint action for compensation from Boeing, De Juniac said that is outside Iata's scope. "At the same time, we are trying to find alignment and stronger transparency regarding the reintroduction of the Max 8 in the best way for everyone," he added.

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways and chair of Iata, said that the industry body has full confidence in the regulators and in Boeing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and for a solution to be found.

According to De Juniac, everyone must be confident that processes are sufficiently thorough, not to warrant duplicative and redundant examinations by jurisdictions.

"While Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration are at centre stage, the close collaboration of counterpart manufacturers and civil aviation authorities around the world is essential. Any rift between regulators is not in anybody's interest," said De Juniac.

"This is about more than restoring confidence in how aircraft are certified. When issues arise, coordination among regulators and with industry must improve.

"People are confused as grounding decisions rolled out in some markets while it was business as usual in others," he explained.

De Juniac said he is certainly not advocating for "knee-jerk reactions". He emphasised that governments and the aviation industry must find a way to maintain public confidence in safety with fast and coordinated responses.

Last month Iata met with Boeing 737 Max 8 operators. Establishing trust among regulators and improving coordination were identified as the two priorities which will be discussed further at a follow-up summit for airlines, manufacturers and regulators.

* Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM.

iata  |  boeing  |  iata agm  |  airlines  |  safety  |  aviation
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