Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash
Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months.
On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board.
Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people after departing Jakarta in October.
On Tuesday night the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) suspended the operation of MAX 8 aircraft on inbound and outbound flights.
No Australian airlines operate the model, but Fiji Airways and Singapore-based SilkAir use the MAX 8 on flights to Australia.
“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from Australia,” said CASA CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody.
“CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first.”
China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Oman have also banned all MAX planes from their airspace.
A number of EU members including the France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom have separately suspended flights.
Boeing’s share price has fallen by a further 7% as airlines have grounded the planes, and pressure is mounting on the company to prove the planes are safe with 350 MAX 8s currently in service, and more than 5,000 on order.
Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Norway’s Air Shuttle, South Korea’s Eastar Jet, South Africa’s Comair, and many others have all suspended their flights.
However, United States-based carriers have continued to fly the planes, and the US Federal Aviation Authority has not banned MAX 8 flights over American airspace.
On Tuesday Boeing announced plans to upgrade the software in the jets in “the coming weeks”, saying the company had “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer”.
Investigators have suggested that the Lion Air crash in October last year may have been due to the pilots struggling with an automated anti-stall system that was a new feature of the jet.
It is not yet clear whether the anti-stall system was the cause of the Ethiopian Airways crash, and experts are not ruling out other technical issues or human error.
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