A growing number of countries and airlines are grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8s in the wake of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash – the second fatal crash to involve the new model of aircraft in five months.
Ethiopian Airlines flight 303 bound for Nairobi crashed six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. Another Boeing 737 MAX 8, owned by Indonesian carrier Lion Air, went down in October, killing 189. In both cases, the pilot had reported difficulties and requested permission to turn back.
The Max 8 has become a popular new model for Boeing since its entry into commercial service in 2017. More than 300 currently in operation and over 5,000 ordered worldwide.
But as investigators begin to work to determine the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, at least 13 countries have temporarily banned the use of the MAX 8 in their airspaces and at least 26 airlines have temporarily stopped flying them.
China was the first country to ban the model on Monday. Australia, Malaysia, Oman, Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, Morocco and Mongolia followed suit.
The U.K., France, Ireland and Germany became the first European countries to ban the aircraft from their airspace on Tuesday. The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority saying it was taking the “precautionary measure” because it did not yet “have sufficient information from the flight data recorder” from the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority issued a global notice of “continued airworthiness” on Monday night. “External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the agency said.
Airlines that have grounded their stock of MAX 8s include Signapore’s Silk Air, India’s Jet Air, Mexico’s Aeroméxico, Argentina’s Aerolíneas Argentinas, Brazil’s Gol, Mongolia’s MIAT and Morroco’s Royal Air Maroc.
Norwegian Air initially said it would keep using the model, but on Tuesday said they were suspending the model, “following recommendations by European aviation authorities.”
Norwegian temporarily suspends flights with the Boeing 737 MAX 8, following recommendations by European aviation authorities. We will do our upmost to take care of our passengers in the best possible way. https://t.co/kZICrrRGsN
— Norwegian (@Fly_Norwegian) March 12, 2019
But other carriers – including American Airlines, Southwest, TUI and Fiji Airways – say they will continue to fly the model.
“We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry,” American Airlines Group Inc., which is the world’s largest carrier, said in a statement to Bloomberg.