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UK joins growing list of countries grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 jets

The United Kingdom and a growing number of airlines grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 jets following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday. That disaster came just five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189.

Some airlines cited worried customers for grounding the new Boeing 737 Max 8, as a global team of investigators began picking through the rural Ethiopian crash site on Tuesday, searching for details on why the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. Answers could take months.

Norwegian Airlines and South Korean airline Eastar Jet were the latest to halt use of the plane. The United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore suspended flights of the plane into or out of their countries.

Boeing, however, has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies. It doesn’t intend to issue any new recommendations about the aircraft to its customers. Its technical team joined American, Israeli and other aviation experts in the investigation led by Ethiopian authorities.

Boeing 737 Max 8 facing scrutiny after deadly crash

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it expects Boeing will soon complete improvements to an automated anti-stall system suspected of contributing to the deadly Lion Air crash in October and update training requirements and related flight crew manuals.

Here is a list of airlines and countries that have grounded the aircraft so far:

Australia

Australia has announced a temporary ban on flights by Boeing 737 Max aircraft, although none of its airlines currently operate them. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said Tuesday that the ban will affect two foreign airlines — SilkAir and Fiji Airways — that use them for flights to Australia. The authority said Singapore’s SilkAir has already grounded its 737 Max jets, and that the CASA is working with regulators there and in Fiji to minimize disruptions.

The authority said Fiji Airways has two 737 Max 8 jets in its fleet. The airline had hoped to continue flying the jets to Pacific destinations.

Brazil

Brazil’s Gol Airlines has suspended the use of 121 Max 8 jets. The airline said it’s following the investigation of the Max 8 closely and hopes to return the aircraft to use as soon as possible. Gol said it has made nearly 3,000 flights with the Max 8, which went into service last June, with “total security and efficiency.”

Cayman Islands

Cayman Airways, a Caribbean carrier, said it stopped using its two Max 8 jets starting Monday. President and CEO Fabian Whorms said the airline is committed to “putting the safety of our passengers and crew first.” Whorms said the move will cause changes to flight schedules.

Cayman is the flag carrier of Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory. It received its first Max 8 in November and its second earlier this month.

China

China has 96 Max 8 jets in service, belonging to carriers such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The civilian aviation authority directed the planes to be grounded indefinitely on Monday. It said the order was “taken in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for security risks.”

Eight Chinese citizens were on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after taking off on Sunday. The authority said it will consult the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing before deciding when to lift the ban.

Ethiopia

A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines says it will ground its remaining four Max 8 jets as an “extra safety precaution” while it investigates Sunday’s deadly crash. Asrat Begashaw said investigations and the search for bodies and aircraft debris will continue. The airline is awaiting the delivery of 25 more Max 8 jets.

India

India’s Jet Airways said it’s “in contact with the manufacturer” of Max 8 jets and has grounded five of them starting Monday. Indian airline SpiceJet also uses the aircraft, but it’s unclear if those planes are grounded. Calls and emails to the company were unanswered Tuesday.

On Monday, India’s aviation watchdog ordered a safety assessment of the aircraft. It also issued safety instructions for flying the Max 8 jet.

Indonesia

Indonesia said it will temporarily ground Max 8 jets to inspect their airworthiness. Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti said the move was made to ensure flight safety. A Lion Air model of the same plane crashed in Indonesia in October.

Indonesian airlines operate 11 Max 8 jets. Lion Air, which owns 10 of them, said it will try to minimize the impact of the decision on operations. The other Max 8 jet belongs to national carrier Garuda.

Mexico

Mexican airline Aeromexico has suspended flights of its six Max 8 jets after the crash in Ethiopia. Aeromexico said it “fully” trusts the safety of its fleet but ordered the grounding to ensure “the safety of its operations and the peace of mind of its customers.” It said other planes will take over the routes usually flown by the Max 8.

Norway

Norwegian Air on Tuesday suspended flights of the Max, citing “recommendations by European aviation authorities.”

“[W]e have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities,” Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Singapore

Singapore has temporarily banned Max 8 jets — and other models in the Max range — from entering and leaving the country. The civil aviation authority said it was “closely monitoring the situation,” and the ban will be “reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available.” It added that it was in close communication with the FAA, Boeing and other aviation authorities.

SilkAir, a regional carrier owned by Singapore Airlines, has six Max 8 jets. It said the ban “will have an impact on some of the airline’s flight schedules.” The authority said flights to Singapore by China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air will also be affected.

South Korea

South Korean airline Eastar Jet said it will suspend operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the same aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people. It said the aircraft will be replaced by Boeing 737-800 planes starting Wednesday on routes to Japan and Thailand. The airline added that it hasn’t found any problems, but is voluntarily grounding the planes in response to customer concerns.

United Kingdom

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has “issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace,” the regulator said in a statement. The UK has five Max 8 jets in operation with a sixth one scheduled to start operating later this week, the Associate Press reported.


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