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Civil Aviation Authority bans Fiji Airways Boeing 737 Max planes in New Zealand

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the operation of Boeing 737 Max aircraft to or from New Zealand.

Currently this affects only one operator, Fiji Airways which flies between Nadi and Wellington. There are no other airlines that fly this aircraft type to New Zealand.

The director of Civil Aviation, Graeme Harris, said that because of the very low utilisation of this type of aircraft on flights into and out of New Zealand, the authority has had time to thoroughly review concerns about the B737 MAX series aircraft following the tragic accidents involving the type in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The decision to suspend operations by the aircraft follows recent discussions with other aviation authorities, including the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which have responsibility for oversight of the design of the aircraft.

The CAA's assessment has taken into consideration the level of uncertainty regarding the cause of the recent Ethiopian Airlines accident plus its review of the aircraft design.

“This is a temporary suspension while we continue to monitor the situation closely and analyse information as it comes to hand to determine the safety risks of continued operation of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from New Zealand.” Harris said.

The CAA regretted “any inconvenience to passengers on Fiji Airways flights in and out of New Zealand but believes it is important to take this action until more information is available on the cause of the two B737 MAX accidents.”.

Meanwhile, in line with the stance taken by aviation regulators in our region, and an increasing number of operators worldwide, Fiji Airways, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji, has taken the decision to temporarily ground its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft until more information is known about the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines accident.

“We would like to stress that Fiji Airways, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji, continue to have full confidence in the airworthiness of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and in the skilled and experienced Fiji Airways pilots and engineers who operate them.”

Since Fiji Airways commenced operating the Boeing 737 MAX in December 2018, the aircraft has proven to be reliable and efficient, and continuous flight data monitoring has not identified any issues that would give rise to a cause for concern.

However, out of deference to the position taken by regulators in our region, and in response to the concerns expressed by the general public, both Fiji Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji have agreed that the most appropriate course is to impose this temporary grounding. We will continue to monitor developments closely, and this decision will be reviewed in light of any new information.


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