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Aviation authority monitoring Boeing investigation into deadly plane crash

Workers at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa service an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 similar to the aircraft that crashed on Sunday.
Workers at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa service an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 similar to the aircraft that crashed on Sunday.
Image: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said on Monday it was monitoring the situation following the crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in Ethiopia on Sunday and would take a decision once more information becomes available.

It said it was implementing "cautionary measures" by "engaging" the affected stakeholders, Boeing and Comair.

Comair, which operates British Airways and low-cost carrier kulula.com, owns a Boeing 737 Max 8, which was delivered last month.

The safety of this aircraft was brought into question when an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff in Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. A similar aircraft operated by Lion Air in Indonesia crashed in October last year.

On Monday Comair indicated that it would continue to operate the aircraft.

Wrenelle Stander, executive director of Comair's airline division, said the company would continue to monitor the various investigations by the relevant authorities and were in close contact with both Boeing and the SACAA.

"If we receive information that requires us to reassess the situation,  please be assured we will take appropriate action in the interests of the safety of our staff and customers," said Stander.

The SACAA said on Monday afternoon that it had made contact with both Comair and Boeing.

"We confirm that there are two Boeing 737 Max 8 on the South African aircraft register belonging to one operator, of which only one of the aircraft is in operation,” said spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba.

Ledwaba said to align with international protocols, the SACAA would not conduct any media interviews related to this particular aircraft accident. "In this case, the aircraft involved in the accident was not registered in South Africa and the accident did not occur within South African airspace. The cause of the accident has not yet been determined. Commenting without facts would therefore not be prudent," he said.

Ledwaba added that the SACAA was monitoring the situation and would not hesitate to take any preventative measures, but these would be based on facts and not speculation. This was in the spirit of preserving the integrity of the country's air transport safety and security system.

A well-placed aviation expert said airworthiness authorities, as well as airlines themselves, were the ones who had to review and reflect on the safety of any aircraft, irrespective of its make and model.

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