'I wouldn't be happy flying on one' - retired captain wary of Boeing Max 8s after crashes

A aircraft captain retired in New Zealand says he wouldn't be happy flying on a Boeing 737 Max 8 at the moment after two deadly crashes of the model in five months.

More and more countries across the globe are grounding the model after Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 shortly after takeoff which killed all 157 people on board.

Officials in the United States have told airlines there they believe the model is airworthy.

But there's nervousness about the 74 Max 8's in service in the US, with unions telling nervous cabin crew they don't have to fly on them and passengers demanding to know which planes they're booked on.

Edward Hunkin, an Airbus captain who's retired in New Zealand, says he shares passenger concerns about the Boeing Max 8.  

"If I was a passenger I wouldn't be happy flying on one at the moment. I think it would rank up there among the most serious problems that I've ever heard of during my commercial flying career," Mr Hunkin told 1 NEWS today. 

But the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority is not planning to stop Fiji Airways' Max 8 flying here on Thursday, satisfied necessary steps have been taken. 

"They've also done a risk assessment and they've actually got a training programme in place that addresses this particular scenario," said Mark Hughes, CAA Deputy Director Air Transport and Airworthiness. 

Some experts are blaming the crash on a problem with onboard software that affects air speed and aircraft stability. 

"We've entered a new era of aviation where the pilot - least this is what this is saying to me - might be secondary in the future. And this is probably the crossroads," said Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst.

In both cases the flight crew reported flight control problems - Edward Hunkin, retired captain

There's concern too that the Ethiopia crash is strikingly similar to the crash of a Lion Air  737 Max 8 that claimed 189 lives off the Java coast in October 2018.

"In both cases the weather was good. And perhaps most importantly in both cases the flight crew reported flight control problems and asked for an emergency landing a few minutes after takeoff," Edward Hunkin said. 

About 350 of the planes are operating around the world and 5,000 have been ordered since 2017.

The flight recorder has now been found from the Ethiopia crash and De Paul University Transportation professor Joe Schwieterman says there's a lot of pressure for answers. 

"We have to know some details and get that soon. This can't be an investigation that drags out for two years without definitive answers. There's a lot of pressure right now," he said. 

"Such big loss of life, they've given us a wakeup call that we have to assume this is going to require some sort of technological fix." 

A fix must be completed soon for faith to be restored in Boeing.

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On March 10 the same make of plane crashed in Ethiopia, killing all on board. Source: 1 NEWS