Kenya Airways is considering Boeing 737 Max as a possible replacement for the Embraer 190 as the carrier moves to maintain consistency within its fleet.
In an interview with Business Day Africa, the airline’s chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said they are considering the narrow body-Boeing 737 Max as the alternative for Embraer.
The national carrier announced last month that it would be ditching the Brazilian-made Embraer jets, which form the bulk of its fleet as it seeks to adopt an all-Boeing type.
“We are exploring the Boeing narrow-body aircraft B737,” said Mr Kilavuka in an interview.
The 737 Max had been grounded by the US-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2019 following twin accidents involving this aircraft in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The plane has since resumed service.
Almost four years ago Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 operating Boeing-737 Max crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi killing 157 people on board after plunging on land in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. This came just months after an aircraft of the same model operated by Indonesian Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea resulting in the deaths of 189 passengers.
It later emerged that both accidents were caused by design flaws, in particular the use of flight control software known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
The system was designed to assist pilots familiar with previous generations of the 737 and prevent them from needing costly extra training in order to fly the new model.
Mono-fleeting is expected to help the carrier slash the cost of maintenance as it will use one set of technicians to service its fleet.
The move is set to reduce the cost incurred in training pilots as all this will be done in Nairobi using the Boeing simulator.
Currently, KQ pilots flying Embraer have to go to South Africa for training, which is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa with a simulator for this type of aircraft.
At the moment, KQ operates 39 aircraft, both owned and leased, which comprise nine Boeing 787 wide-body jets that are mainly used for long haul flights.
Kenya’s flag carrier also operates eight Boeing 737 narrow-body jets, 13 Embraer jets and two Boeing 737 freighters.
The carrier, through its low-cost airline-Jambojet, operates seven Bombardier Dash 8-400 jets, which fly domestic and one international route in DRC.
KQ uses Embraer for short routes within Africa and domestic flights to Mombasa and Kisumu from its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.