AIR INDUSTRY & RANKINGS
The airline industry has grown rapidly into a very competitive market, in the past decades Air travel is now a necessity of both business and leisure travelers.
Airlines are now in a huge competitive race to provide better services to be the top choice for travelers.
Looking at the 2018 World Airlines Awards – Singapore Airlines emerged as the World’s Best Airline. Notably Japan and Australia both had two airlines that featured in the top ten list in the same awards. African airlines were not so lucky to make it to the top 10. This is mainly because the continent has been lagging behind on a key benchmark for the awards – aviation safety.
All the same, on a list ranking African carriers, Ethiopian Airlines emerged as the best carrier followed closely by South African Airways and Air Mauritius coming in third.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINE ACCIDENT
Though this was good news for Ethiopian, they are currently trending for rather a sad and unfortunate event. The airline just had the deadliest incident in its history on 10th March 2019. This is when a Boeing 737 MAX 8, barely four months old, crashed shortly after takeoff en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi; all 157 people on board perished.
BOEING 737 MAX MODEL
The 737 MAX 8 has been a major profit driver for Boeing since it was introduced in 2017. Boeing has delivered 354 of the jets globally and has another 2,912 on order. The jet that crashed on Sunday was one of five 737 MAX 8 planes operated by Ethiopian Airlines, which has 25 more on order.
SIMILARITY TO INDONESIA ACCIDENT
Curiously, this comes just months after the crash of another brand-new 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia in October 2018, where all 189 people on board lost their lives.
Both aircraft’s crashed shortly after takeoff.
The Ethiopian airplane, showed a similar flight path to the one in the Indonesia crash.
POSSIBLE CAUSE OF ACCIDENT
A preliminary investigative report released in late November found that a malfunctioning sensor and an automated response from the aircraft’s software left pilots fighting furiously to control the aircraft before it careened into the Java Sea off Indonesia shortly after takeoff, killing 189 people.
The report found that a sensor measuring the plane’s “angle of attack” fed erroneous data into the plane’s flight control system, at which point an automatic feature kicked in, sending the plane into a nose dive.
According to the airline (Ethiopian), the captain of the plane had reported difficulties and requested permission to turn back. Flight radar data shows that the aircraft was climbing erratically, with an unstable vertical airspeed.
In both accidents the pilots reported difficulties immediately after takeoff.
REACTIONS FROM CARRIERS
China and Indonesia have temporarily grounded all 737 MAX planes. Chinese airlines have been among the biggest early operators, with almost a third of the planes in operation.
On 12th March 2019, Singapore and Australia followed suit by barring any model of the 737 MAX from flying in their airspace. A low cost Brazilian Carrier has also grounded all their MAX jets.
Though the exact cause of the accident is yet to be established, it is likely that more carriers will exercise caution with their 737 MAX models following this crash.
“Two 737 MAX 8 commercial jets have crashed shortly after takeoff. The airlines are going to be very interested to know whether this was a problem with the airplane, the training or both,” said Henry Harteveldt, an aviation-market analyst with Atmosphere Research.