Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda Indonesia has asked Boeing to cancel its multibillion-dollar order for 49 737 MAX jets after the plane was involved in two fatal crashes in less than five months.
The move, which could prompt other major carriers to follow suit, comes even as investigators are yet to prove a direct link between the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board and last October’s Lion Air disaster in the Java Sea, which killed 189 people.
But investigators say the circumstances of both the crashes have “clear similarities.”
The Indonesian flag carrier has told Boeing that its passengers had lost confidence in the aircraft.
“We have sent a letter to Boeing requesting that the order be canceled,” Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said.
“The reason is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have confidence in the plane,” he said.
Garuda placed an order worth $4.9 billion (€4.3 billion) for 50 MAX planes in 2014 and has already taken delivery of one of the jets.
Boeing officials will visit Indonesia next week to discuss Garuda’s plans to scrap the order, Rosan told AFP news agency.
Boeing is facing increased pressure to dispel safety concerns about its 737 MAX fleet — the aerospace giant’s best-selling aircraft — which has been grounded by regulators globally in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
The company and the US Federal Aviation Administration are expected to be questioned by US lawmakers. Boeing also faces a criminal probe by the US Justice Department and several lawsuits filed on behalf of the victims of the crashes.
Boeing, which has temporarily halted deliveries of the MAX jets, is working on a software update to the fleet.
The software changes among other things will mandate a previously optional cockpit warning light on MAX jets, Reuters news agency reported. The feature might have warned of problems that possibly played a role in the recent crashes.
Boeing will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, the news agency reported, citing two officials briefed on the matter.
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