UPDATE: Australia joins countries and airlines grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 after horrific Ethiopian Airlines crash

2019-03-12 09:17
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Since the Ethiopian crash, fingers have been pointing towards a potential glitch in the Boeing 737 Max 8.

Ethiopia, Indonesia, China and South Africa's Comair have all suspended their 8 Max fleets. 

SEE: Ethiopian Airlines Crash: These 3 African airlines use the Boeing 737-8 Max

Boeing has confirmed there are about 330 of the 737-8 Max planes in operation globally, with Comair and Air Mauritania being the only two African airlines, besides Ethiopian who have the Max.

Various countries and airlines are following suit, with some grounding their 8 Max fleets while others are busy investigating their safety.

ALSO SEE: Ethiopian Airlines Crash: Comair pulls new Boeing 737-8 Max out of service 

Australia

Australia's Civial Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announced on Tuesday that they will be banning the Boeing 737 Max planes from their airspace temporarily until the investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash is completed.

According to news.com.au no local airline uses the plane, but two foreign airlines do fly with them into Australian airspace - namely Singapore's SilkAir - where the plane has already been grounded - and Fiji Airways, who remain committed to flying their two planes.

“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 Australias,” says CASA chief executive and director of aviation safety, Shane Carmody.

India

India's Jet Airways says it has grounded its five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after a crash in Ethiopia that killed all 157 people on board.

The airline said it is not flying any of the 737 Max planes in its fleet and is "in contact with the manufacturer."

On Monday, India's aviation watchdog said it ordered a safety assessment of the aircraft. It also issued safety instructions for flying Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The directions call for the pilot-in-command to have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience and the co-pilot to have 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG type aircraft.

Indian airline SpiceJet also has Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, but it's unclear if those planes are grounded. Calls and emails to the company were unanswered Tuesday.

READ: Ethiopian Boeing 737-8 Max crash: What is 'unstable vertical speed'

South Korea

South Korean transportation authorities are conducting a safety inspection of a local airline that uses the same aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people.

An official from low-cost carrier Eastar Jet said Tuesday it doesn't have immediate plans to suspend operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes it uses on routes to Japan and Thailand. He said it will wait for the inspection's outcome.

No other South Korean carriers operate the plane. South Korea's Transportation Ministry says the inspection on Eastar began hours after the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The Eastar official says government officials are reviewing Eastar's flight operation manuals and the planes' machinery and software. She said the airline was getting calls from worried customers, but no cancellations.

Singapore

Singapore's civil aviation authority says it has temporarily banned all Boeing 737 Max planes from entering and leaving the country.

It noted in a statement on Tuesday that there have been two fatal accidents involving the aircraft in less than five months. Sunday's deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 killed all 157 people on board.

The authority said the suspension starting later Tuesday will be "reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available."

The suspension will affect SilkAir, a regional carrier that's wholly owned by Singapore Airlines. It has six Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

The authority said that flights to Singapore by China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air will also be affected.

READ: Greek passenger stopped at gate from boarding doomed flight 

Fiji

Fiji Airways says it will continue flying its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes to Pacific destinations.

Fiji's national carrier said in a statement on Tuesday it's following the situation closely and has full confidence in the airworthiness of its fleet. The airline says it mainly uses the MAX 8 planes on routes connecting Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority said Fiji Airways was the only carrier landing MAX 8 planes in New Zealand and it could continue doing so.

United States

In the United States, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said her department was monitoring developments. The FAA noted the investigation into the crash had just begun and it has not yet drawn similarities between the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it expects Boeing will soon complete improvements to an automated anti-stall system that is suspected of contributing to a deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in October.

The FAA said Monday that Boeing will also update training requirements and flight crew manuals related to the system.

The system automatically points the plane's nose down if sensors indicate the plane could be in danger of losing lift, or stalling. Sensors on the plane operated by Indonesia's Lion Air gave out faulty readings on its last four flights.

On the fatal October flight, pilots apparently struggled in vain to fight against the automated nose-down commands.

The FAA tried to discourage comparisons between the Lion Air crash and Sunday's deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8. Both performed erratically shortly after takeoff, then went into nosedives. Weather did not appear to be a factor in either one.

"External reports are drawing similarities between (the Ethiopian) accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident," the FAA said. "However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions."

SEE: Ethiopian crash throws spotlight back on Boeing 

Brazil

Brazil's Gol Airlines is suspending the use of its 121 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash involving the same airplane.

The company said in a press release on Monday night that as of 20:00 local time it would be temporarily stopping the commercial use of the airplanes.

The statement says Gol is fully confident in Boeing's safety operations and it is following updates about the investigation into the 737 Max 8 in order to return the aircraft to use as soon as possible.

Gol says that since it started using the Boeing 737 Max 8 last June, the aircraft have made nearly 3,000 flights with "total security and efficiency."

Mexico

The Mexican airline Aeromexico says it is suspending flights with its six Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners following the crash of a Max 8 aircraft in Ethiopia that killed 157 people.

The company says it trusts "fully" in the safety of its fleet but adds that the grounding has been ordered to ensure "the safety of its operations and the peace of mind of its customers."

A statement issued on Monday evening says the airline is in communication with Boeing as well as aviation authorities about the plane model. It says other planes will take over the flights usually flown by its Max 8 jets.

Airlines in Ethiopia, China and Indonesia have temporarily grounded their Max 8s, in addition to Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways, Comair in South Africa and Royal Air Maroc in Morocco

SEE: A shredded book, a passport: A heartbreaking look at what the 157 victims left behind 

Oman

State-run carrier Oman Air says it is in close contact with Boeing after the crash of an Ethiopian jetliner, the same model that it uses widely.

Oman Air tweeted on Monday that is talking to Boeing "to understand if there are any implications" for other airlines operating Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

It added: "Oman Air's primary and overriding consideration is the safety and well-being of its staff and guests."

Oman Air operates five Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Oman is a sultanate on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula.

Dubai

Mideast budget airline FlyDubai says it will continue to fly Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft after reviewing a recent US regulator statement about the aircraft.

FlyDubai said on Tuesday that "no further action is required at this time" over the aircraft, which is a workhorse in the Dubai government-owned carrier's fleet.

FlyDubai' statement on Tuesday comes after it said on Monday that it remains "confident in the airworthiness of our fleet."

FlyDubai operates 11 Boeing 737 Max 8 and two Boeing Max 9 jetliners.

SEE: Doomed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing was on fire before crash - witness 

Cayman Islands

Cayman Airways says it is temporarily grounding the two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft it operates in the wake of an Ethiopian Airlines crash involving the same plane model.

The Caribbean carrier said the grounding would take effect Monday. While he acknowledged the cause of the Ethiopian crash was unclear, airline President and CEO Fabian Whorms said the airline was taking the step because of its "commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first."

He said the move would lead to scheduling changes as the carrier copes with aircraft shortages.

Cayman received its first Max 8 in November and its second just this month.

The airline is the flag carrier of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory.

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