The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) is urging for more clarity in a timely manner from FAA and Boeing on the proposed modifications on the Boeing 737 MAX so that regulators and airlines can make sound judgments and instill confidence.  

“Firstly, our thoughts are with those affected by the recent tragic accidents,” AAPA director general Andrew Herdman told ATW. “We can see some differences in the decision-making approaches taken by various regulators. Typically, this is quite analytical, based on gathering of data, and careful deliberation before making changes.”

Boeing and FAA are reportedly looking at possible design, training and procedural changes following the Lion Air accident in October 2018, but Herdman thinks it has taken longer than some would have liked.

While initial findings of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 are yet to be released, he agrees the close frequency of the accidents has raised public interest.  

“If any evidence becomes available suggesting that lessons from the Lion Air incident might have avoided the Ethiopian accident, that would raise issues about the speed of decision making, and the sharing of possible lessons to be learned from Lion Air,” he added. “In any case, I think the timing of how soon the FAA and Boeing are able to implement such changes will have an impact on the willingness of other regulators to lift the temporary operating suspensions. The regulators need more facts and active dialogue.”

He cautioned that the cascading effect of regulators suspending the aircraft type across the globe could “unduly alarm the public,” but he stressed that flying is extraordinarily safe, and the aviation community is always working closely together to make it ever safer.

“The regulators are acting in good faith even though they may come to different conclusions, based on their available information and judgment. The public can rest assured that as and when the suspensions are lifted they can have every confidence on the integrity of the air transport system,” he said.

AAPA is in contact with its member airlines and has been sharing information regarding these and related developments. Every effort is being made to minimize disruption of services to the traveling public.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com