The same model of aircraft that crashed after takeoff on Monday killing 189 passengers aboard an ill-fated Lion Air flight has been ordered in bulk by a major Australian airline.
The New Daily understands that Virgin Australia has 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes on order, with the first of them due to arrive in November 2019.
The model has been in commercial use since 2016.
A Virgin Australia spokeswoman declined to comment on the impending additions to its fleet while the exact cause of the Indonesian crash was still being investigated.
The New Daily also understands that Virgin Australia is monitoring the investigation following Monday’s deadly crash, and paying particular attention to the fleet type it has on order.
In previous reports, the airline has also revealed deliveries of its larger fleet the 737 Max 10 – a larger aircraft with a total length of 43.8 metres – will commence in 2022.
Fuselage found on seabed
A top Indonesian military official said on Wednesday that the Lion Air jet may have been found in the Java Sea.
Armed forces chief Hadi Tjahjanto said a search and rescue effort had identified the possible seabed location of the jet.
“We strongly believe that we have found a part of the fuselage of JT610,” Mr Tjahjanto told TV One.
The search team had the location coordinates but now had to confirm it was the fuselage, he added.
Debris and some human remains have already been found in the water, but recovery teams have been searching for the main fuselage and the aircraft’s black box data recorders.
‘No cause for concern’
Dr Peter Bruce, airline operations expert at Swinburne University in Melbourne, said Virgin’s order for Boeing 737 MAX 8s should prompt no cause for concern.
“If it’s a technical problem, then it’s more likely to be an anomaly with that particular airline, so there is no need to be alarmed or concerned at this stage,” Dr Bruce told The New Daily.
Airline Intelligence Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said there was no need for panic.
“If there was an issue with one of the major airlines using this aircraft then I would say it’s a cause for concern,” Dr Webber said.
“But, because this happened in Indonesia, which has an extremely bad aviation record, I think there are factors to consider.”
The low-cost carrier Lion Air – whose new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea on Monday, killing all 189 on board – has a history of serious safety incidents in its two-decade history.
The Indonesian airline began operating in 2000 and was banned from flying to European Union countries from 2007-2016.
Its first deadly incident was in 2004, when 25 people died and more than 100 were injured after a plane skidded at an airport in Solo, in central Java.
Lion blamed bad weather and strong tailwinds after the plane overshot the runway and crashed into a cemetery.