Indonesian national carrier Garuda has reportedly sent a letter to Boeing requesting the cancellation of a multi-billion-dollar order for 49 B737 Max 8 aircraft following the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

A spokesman for the airline told the AFP news agency that the reason behind the cancellation “is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have the confidence” in the aircraft.

Boeing has said it cannot comment on discussions with customers.

Garuda had earlier grounded its one B737 Max 8 following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in which all 157 passengers and crew were killed. The airline is reportedly talking to Boeing about whether or not it should return this aircraft.

The same aircraft model was involved in an October 2018 accident in which all 189 people on Lion Air Flight 610 died.

A preliminary investigation has found ‘similarities’ between the two incidents, with the inquiry focusing on the Max’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that allegedly could have forced the nose of the aeroplanes down to prevent them from crashing. It is believed the pilots involved in both accidents may have struggled to control the aircraft.

Boeing, which recommended all B737 Max aircraft around the world should be grounded as a precaution, is hoping to release a software update for the MCAS by the end of this month, though it is unclear how long the fleet will remain grounded.

If Garuda’s order is cancelled successfully, it would mean Boeing has lost a deal worth US$4.9 billion.

The US Department of Transportation has ordered an investigation into the certification process undertaken by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in relation to the B737 Max 8. It has been revealed that Boeing “requested an amended type certification” for the aircraft in 2012 and the FAA issued this in 2017.

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