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Some countries ground Boeings, most keep them flying

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Paris (AFP)

Boeing's 737 MAX 8 medium-haul workhorse jet was grounded in China, Ethiopia and Indonesia on Monday after an Ethiopian Airlines crash killed all 157 people on board.

The Nairobi-bound plane was the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October, killing 189 passengers and crew -- with some detecting similarities between the two accidents.

Elsewhere however airlines said they would continue flying the aircraft pending an investigation into the crash and possible guidance from Boeing itself.

Most simply continued to operate the 737 MAX 8 without communicating about their decision.

- China -

China on Monday ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, citing the Ethiopian Airlines accident and last year's crash of the same model in Indonesia.

Noting "similarities" between the two accidents, China's Civil Aviation Administration said operation of the model would only resume after "confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety".

China is a hugely important market for the US aircraft company, accounting for about one-fifth of worldwide deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX models.

- Indonesia -

Indonesia, where a Boeing plane of the same model crashed in October, said it was grounding its 11 jets of the 737 MAX 8 type.

Inspections of the aircraft would start Tuesday and the planes would remain grounded until they were cleared by safety regulators, Director General of Air Transport Polana Pramesti told reporters.

Ten of Indonesia's Max 8 jets are operated by Lion Air while the other is flown by national carrier Garuda.

- Ethiopia -

Ethiopian Airlines said Monday it had grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet.

"Following the tragic accident of ET 302... Ethiopian Airlines has decided to ground all B-737-8 MAX fleet... until further notice," the state-owned carrier said.

"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 airline, Africa's largest.

- Russia -

Russian airline S7 said it was closely following the ongoing investigation into the crash and was in contact with Boeing, but had received no instructions from the US plane maker to stop flying the 737 MAX 8.

- Turkey -

The CEO of Turkish Airlines, which flies 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, said in a tweet that the carrier is in touch with Boeing and that passenger security was paramount.

The aircraft however would continue to fly as scheduled.

- Italy -

Air Italy said it was in "constant dialogue with the authorities" and would follow all directives "to ensure the maximum level of safety and security". In the meantime, the planes remained in the air.

- Iceland -

Icelandair's operations chief Jens Thordarson told Frettabladid that it would be "premature" to link the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia together.

For now, "nothing pushes us towards the slightest action", he said.

This could change depending on the outcome of an ongoing probe but "for now, there is no reason to fear these machines".

Icelandair operates three Boeing 737 MAX 8 and has options to buy more.

- Norway -

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which operates 18 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, said it would keep them in the air.

- Dubai -

Airline flydubai said it was "monitoring the situation" and that it was "confident in the airworthiness of our fleet".

- Oman -

Oman Air said it was in contact with Boeing "to understand if there are any implications for other airlines operating the same model".

burs/jh/bmm

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