LONDON – Local media outlet The Straits Times reported this week that Lion Air may cancel future orders of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the crash of flight JT610 which killed all 189 occupants back in October.
The aircraft, registered PK-LQP, was only three months old at the time of the accident.
Preliminary investigations state that the plane’s flight crew on preceding flights noted signs of instrument failures. Up to four flights in the run-up to the crash had recorded maintenance woes.
Rusdi Kirana, the co-founder of the Lion Air Group, is “furious” over Boeing’s attempts to deflect attention from the recent design changes and blame the airline for the crash.
Such blame has been put over the poor maintenance records from the carrier, suggesting that its aircraft are not very well looked after.
According to sources, Rusdi is examining the potential cancelation of its orders “from the next delivery.”
For Boeing, this would be a tremendous blow. The Indonesian carrier has a massive order of 190 aircraft, worth $22 billion at current list prices.
One of Boeing’s spokespersons said that the manufacturer is “working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities,” also noting that Lion Air is a “valued customer.”
Currently, the Lion Air group operates a massive fleet of 197 Boeing 737s, one of the world’s largest all-737 operators.
The American manufacturer is currently looking at software modifications and insisted that all operators of the 737 MAX should cancel all “automated nose-down movements experienced by the aircraft in response to erroneous sensor readings.”
A Boeing 737 captain with more than 7,000 flight hours on the type told Airways that the alleged issue with the aircraft is heavily trained in the United States but under a different name.
“What happened with the Lion Air plane looks a lot like a runaway trim emergency,” he said. “We train for this emergency every time we jump on the simulator, but the origin of the fault is quite different than what investigators say happened with the Lion Air 737 MAX.”
For this reason, Boeing has come under fire from US pilots for not mentioning the MCAS system – a modification of existing anti-stall systems – in the manual for the 737 MAX, which began service last year.
Boeing has said all information necessary to fly the 737 safely is available to pilots and that its workhorse model is safe.
It will be interesting to see whether Lion Air indeed cancels orders, which would break-off a really significant relationship between the airline and Boeing.