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Virgin Australia delays Boeing 737 MAX order over safety concerns

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Sydney NSW, Australia Apr 30, 2019, 10.57 AM (IST)

Virgin Australia said on Tuesday it had delayed delivery of its order of 48 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft over safety concerns, following two deadly crashes.

The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since mid-March following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and an earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed a total of 346 passengers and crew.

Virgin Australia said in a statement that it was deferring delivery of its first batch of planes from November 2019 to July 2021. 

"Safety is always the number one priority for Virgin Australia. As we have previously stated, we will not introduce any new aircraft to the fleet unless we are completely satisfied with its safety," Virgin Chief Executive Paul Scurrah said.

"We are confident in Boeing's commitment to returning the 737 MAX to service safely and as a long-term partner of Boeing, we will be working with them through this process", Scurrah said.

Virgin also said it was shifting some of its orders of 737 MAX 8s to Max 10s while keeping the total at 48 planes.

The Virgin announcement comes as Boeing executives faced several shareholder challenges Monday at its annual general meeting, with the crisis raising questions about whether the aerospace giant put profits ahead of safety to market a new narrow-body plane.

The US firm has said both crashes involved erroneous information generated by the anti-stall system.

But it has defended the design of the MAX saying multiple factors can contribute to catastrophic accidents.

Boeing expects the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a test flight of a software fix for the anti-stall system soon.

Story highlights

Virgin Australia said in a statement that it was deferring delivery of its first batch of planes from November 2019 to July 2021.