After a remarkable 2017 when there were no major commercial air crashes, 2018 has been a bit more macabre. The latest crash was that of a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX8, a brand-new aircraft that was barely a few months old. This of course has raised fears about the safety of the aircraft in question, given that the Boeing 737 MAX8 is a very new type itself and with over 400 of the type on order by Indian carriers, some are fearing that the type itself is unsafe. That is patently not the case. The fact is that the Boeing 737 MAX8 is the continuation of the successful Boeing 737 family that has been going strong for nearly sixty years. The MAX8 incorporates several modern advances into the design, including brand-new engines and is a more capable aircraft than Boeing’s first jet transport the Boeing 707, and is able to fly long distances without any problems.
So, why did this Lion Air jet crash? Well, the fact is that until an investigation is completed we will not know. Was it due to malfunctioning instruments as some have suspected? A similar reason is believed to have been responsible for the crash of an Indonesia Air Asia plane a few years ago. Was it pilot error? Or is there a fundamental issue with the plane? And why is Indonesia a hub for air crashes? All of these questions will need to be answered and answered quickly. Air accidents tend to get undue amounts of reportage given the carnage and the death toll, yet the fact is that air travel is safer than ever before. The Indian civil aviation regulator and SpiceJet and Jet Airways that also operate the MAX8 have come out and said that their planes are perfectly safe, so have no fear of flying.