Asia-Pacific News

Malaysia Airlines won't ground B777 fleet, CEO says

The search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Despite being hit by the worst disaster in its forty one-year history when a Boeing 777-200ER jet en route to Beijing disappeared from radar on Saturday, Malaysia Airlines said it won't ground the remaining 14-strong B777 fleet.

Replying to questions from CNBC at a Sunday press conference, MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said he remained "very confident" of the "despatch ability and reliability" of the Boeing 777-200 fleet.

Jauhari echoed earlier remarks from Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's Director General of Civil Aviation, who said his department hasn't issued any order to MAS to stop flying the jets despite the incident. The search for the missing aircraft, which disappeared from radar in the small hours of Saturday morning, entered its second day Sunday and now involves at least six nations.

(Read more: Amid anxiety, search continues for missing Malaysia flight)

Aviation experts told CNBC that because MAS had not yet found any debris - or the black box flight recorder - they could not reconstruct the plane, determine exactly went wrong and establish a reasonable case to ground the B777 fleet.

Malaysian Airline System (MAS) aircrafts sit on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Malaysia.
Goh Seng Chong | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"If you get a suspicion it's a design flaw or a component failure and could cause a failure of the same component in the same type of plane" then an airline may decide to stop flying the affected model, said Andrew Herdman, director general of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

Boeing, the airline's manufacturer, has sent a technical team to Malaysia to help investigating authorities piece together - figuratively and quite literally - what befell flight MH370.

(Read more at Stolen passports trigger terror concerns)

Herdman said the structural safety and integrity of the Boeing wide-body jet was solid: "There's no suspicion about the type itself," he said. "The 777 is the workhorse of the fleet. They're operating across the world, it has an exemplary safety record and is a reliable safe aircraft. We're looking at something really unique here, something highly unusual affecting this particular flight."

CNBC's Sri Jegarajah