More countries and airlines are grounding B-737 MAX planes, but many are keeping them in the air (STEPHEN BRASHEAR)
Paris (AFP) – A number of countries have banned Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 medium-haul workhorse jet from their airspace in response to the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board.
Several individual airlines have grounded their B-737 MAX 8 aircraft but many others are continuing to fly the plane pending an investigation into the crash and possible guidance from Boeing itself.
The Nairobi-bound plane was the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October, killing 189 passengers and crew — and some officials have detected similarities between the two accidents.
There are some 350 737 MAX 8 planes currently in service around the world with more than 5,000 on order.
– Countries banning B-737 MAX planes –
Australia barred Boeing 737 MAX planes from its airspace. Fiji Airways is the only 737 MAX operator affected by the Australian ban, according to Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, as Singapore-based SilkAir’s planes were already covered by a ban imposed by the city-state.
In Britain, the authorities said that “as a precautionary measure” on the plane, they had decided “to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace”.
Beijing Monday ordered domestic airlines to suspend operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, citing the two crashes.
Noting “similarities” between the two incidents, China said operation of the model would only resume after “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety”.
The French civil aviation authority banned B-737 MAX aircraft from French airspace “as a precautionary measure”.
Germany banned all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from its airspace.
“Safety comes first. Until all doubts have been cleared up, I have ordered that German airspace be closed to all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with immediate effect,” Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said.
There are currently no 737 MAX planes registered in Germany.
Indonesia said it was grounding 11 jets of the 737 MAX 8 type.
The planes would remain grounded until they were cleared by safety regulators, Director General of Air Transport Polana Pramesti said.
Ireland banned “all variants” of the Boeing 737 MAX from its airspace.
Malaysia banned the plane from its airspace. No Malaysian carriers currently operate the model, the aviation authority said.
The Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority said on Facebook it had ordered the state carrier MIAT Mongolian Airlines to ground the sole Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet.
Oman suspended Boeing 737 MAX flights “until further notice”.
Singapore banned the aircraft from its airspace.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it was “temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore” in light of the two recent accidents.
– Airlines grounding B-737 MAX jets –
Argentina’s flagship carrier suspended operation of its five 737 MAX 8s pending the result of investigations into the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane. Earlier its pilots had refused to fly the jet.
Aeromexico, which has six 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, grounded the aircraft.
Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said it would suspend flights for its two 737 MAX 8 planes “until more information is received”.
South African airline Comair said it had “decided to remove its 737 MAX from its flight schedule”.
Eastar Jet, the only South Korean airline owning the aircraft, was told by the country’s government to ground them.
Ethiopian Airlines said Monday it had grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet “until further notice”.
“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we have to decide to ground the particular fleet as an extra safety precaution,” said the state-owned carrier, Africa’s largest.
Brazil’s Gol Airlines said it was temporarily suspending use of the plane.
Icelandair suspended its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.
Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle said it would suspend flights of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft “until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities”.
German carrier TUI fly, owned by Germany’s TUI travel group, said it would ground its 15 aircraft of the B-737 MAX type which are stationed in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Turkish Airlines said it was suspending flights using its fleet of 12 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
– Currently no ban on B-737 MAX planes –
Airline Flydubai said it was “monitoring the situation” and it was “confident in the airworthiness of our fleet”.
India’s aviation regulator said Monday that it had imposed additional “interim” safety requirements for ground engineers and crew for the aircraft, but stopped short of ordering their grounding.
Indian airline SpiceJet, which flies 13 B-737 MAX 8 planes, jumped to the defence of the plane, calling it “a highly sophisticated aircraft”.
Air Italy said it would follow all directives “to ensure the maximum level of safety and security”. In the meantime, its planes remain in the air.
Russian airline S7 said it was closely following the crash investigation and was in contact with Boeing, but had received no instructions to stop flying the 737 MAX 8.
The US Federal Aviation Administration said it would not make any decision until it has more evidence.
“No updates so far. We continue to be involved in the accident investigation and will make decisions on any further steps based on the evidence,” FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford told AFP.
Boeing, which has sent experts to assist in the Ethiopia probe, said safety is its “number one priority”.
“The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” it said in a statement.
Southwest Airlines, which operates 34 of the 737 MAX 8 planes, said: “We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft.”
A source told AFP that American Airlines planned to continue operating its two dozen 737 MAX 8s.
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