SINGAPORE: A growing number of airlines around the world have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 jets following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday, five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189.
US aviation officials however said they would not ground Boeing 737 Max planes, bucking a trend of countries around the world that have suspended the aircraft’s operations.
Some airlines and countries that have grounded the aircraft so far:
Hong Kong on Wednesday barred Boeing 737 MAX airliners from its airspace, the latest in a series of government bans worldwide in the wake of a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia.
Despite Boeing’s assurances in the wake of the disaster, the European Union, Britain and India joined China and other countries grounding the plane or banning it from their airspace as they await the results of the crash investigation.
The semi-autonomous Chinese city’s Civil Aviation Department (CAD) said it was imposing a temporary suspension from 6 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on Wednesday until further notice on “operation of Boeing B737 MAX aircraft into, out of and over Hong Kong”.
The ban is “solely a precautionary measure to ensure aviation safety and protect the public”, a CAD spokesman added.
A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines says it grounded its remaining four Max 8 jets as an “extra safety precaution” while it investigates Sunday’s deadly crash. The airline is awaiting the delivery of 25 more Max 8 jets.
China has 96 Max 8 jets in service, belonging to carriers such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The civil 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.” There were eight Chinese citizens on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after taking off on Sunday. The authority said it will consult the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing before deciding when to lift the ban.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has issued a directive grounding all Boeing 737-8 Max and 737-9 model aircraft following two recent accidents.
EASA said in its emergency airworthiness directive Tuesday that “at this early stage” of the most recent investigation, “it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events.”
“Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models.”
It says companies may make one noncommercial flight to return their planes to a location where they can be inspected. The grounding applies to all European Union airspace.
Brazil’s Gol Airlines has suspended the use of seven Max 8 jets. The airline said it is following the investigation 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.”
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.” 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 UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority said its ban on the aircraft in its airspace was “a precautionary measure.” The 737 Max is the workhorse of the Dubai government-owned budget carrier flydubai. It operates 11 Boeing 737 Max 8 and 2 Max 9 jetliners. Its total fleet is around 60 aircraft, including other models of the 737.
Canadian charter airline Sunwing is suspending use of its four Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he has no plans to ground Canada’s fleet of 737 Max aircraft, but that “all options are on the table.”
Vietnam is banning Boeing 737 Max planes from flying into its airspace.
Dinh Viet Thang, director of Vietnam’s civil aviation authority, said Wednesday that airlines flying those models of planes will have to change the aircraft for safety purposes. The ban lasts until further notice.
None of Vietnam’s four airlines uses the Max model planes in their fleets, but Korea’s Eastar Jet, Thai Lion Air and Malaysia’s Malindor Air fly those planes to Vietnamese destinations.
India says it is immediately grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash. A statement late Tuesday says the planes “will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.”
The statement does not say how many planes are affected.
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 it is working with regulators there and in Fiji to minimize disruptions. It said that Fiji Airways has two 737 Max 8 jets in its fleet. Fiji Airways and Fiji’s Civil Aviation Authority said they would ground the fleet until more information is known about the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines accident.
Cayman Airways, a Caribbean carrier, said it stopped using its two Max 8 jets starting Monday. President and CEO Fabian Whorms said the move will cause changes to flight schedules. Cayman is the flag carrier of Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory.
Indonesia said it would 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.
The Civil Aviation Authority said no Malaysian carriers operate the Max 8, but that foreign airlines are banned from flying the plane in Malaysia, and from transiting in the country, until further notice.
Mexican airline Aeromexico has suspended flights of its six Max 8 jets. 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.
Oman barred flights by Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft. Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation made the sultanate’s announcement, without elaborating on its reasoning. State-owned Oman Air operates five Max 8 aircraft and said it was rescheduling other planes for its flights.
Comair, the operator of British Airways and Kulula flights in South Africa, says it has grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 while it consults with Boeing, other operators and technical experts.
A statement does not say how many planes are affected. It says the decision was made without intervention from regulatory authorities.
South Korean airline Eastar Jet said it would suspend operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and replaced them with Boeing 737-800 planes starting Wednesday on routes to Japan and Thailand. The airline says it hasn’t found any problems, but is voluntarily grounding the planes in response to customer concerns.
In a statement on Twitter Tuesday, Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi said all Boeing 737 Max flights are suspended until the “uncertainty affecting safety is cleared.” He added that passenger safety was the company’s priority.
Icelandair Group says it has temporarily suspended operations of its three Boeing 737 Max aircraft until further notice.
President and CEO Bogi Nels Bogason said Tuesday that the company will follow developments closely and work with local, European and US authorities on any steps that need to be taken.
He said the temporary suspension won’t impact the company’s operations, as it only affects three aircraft out of a fleet of 33.
New Zealand and Fiji have suspended Boeing 737 Max 8 flights in and out of the two countries following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner.
The decision only affects one operator, Fiji Airways. No New Zealand airlines use the Max 8 planes.