KQ to buy Sh. 120 billion controversial Boeing 737 Max planes

Kenya Airways is set to purchase 10 planes of the controversial Boeing model 737-Max 8. The planes will cost the national carrier some Sh. 120 billion. This decision comes in the wake of a global boycott of the planes that have been involved in two fatal accidents within months.

The decision also follows an opposite decision by the Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia which on Friday announced that it was canceling an order for 49 Boeing 737-Max 8 planes worth Sh. 600 billion.

But according to KQ chairman Michael Joseph, the national carrier will stick to the planes since they are the most cost friendly to run at the moment. “We hope that between now and the time when we are ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have solved the current problem,” Mr. Joseph told a local daily.

Boeing is currently facing probe in the US over the installation and ommission of a softaware that is suspected to have caused the two recent accidents. These two accidents involved the Indonesian Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines. They left no survivors. This software is known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). It automatically lowers the nose of the plane when it receives information from the AOA sensors that the aircraft is flying too slowly or steeply, and is at risk of stalling.

KQ has also been slow to switch to Boeing’s main rival, Airbus, because of the training costs that would come with the move.

Nonetheless, KQ does not have the Boeing 737-Max 8 planes in its fleet currently. The carrier has a fleet of 40 planes, being a mixture of Boeing jets and the Brazilian-made Embraer 190. The aircraft comprise 20 that the national carrier fully owns and another 20 leased from other companies. It has also leased three of the Boeing 777-300ER to Turkish Airlines while a Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been leased to Oman Air where KQ earns lease rental income from the arrangement.

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