More countries suspend 737 Max operations

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw March 13, 2019 09:26

More countries suspend 737 Max operations

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to temporarily suspend all Boeing 737 Max operations. Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority has closed its airspace to the aircraft type, joining India, Oman and the UAE, Hong Kong and New Zealand as the latest jurisdictions to ban the Max.The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commented yesterday that is saw no basis on which to ground the aircraft type. Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said yesterday that the FAA is continuing to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX, noting however that so far, “our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action. In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action”.

Senators are continuing to pile pressure onto the agency to follow other countries and ground the aircraft pending the results of the investigation into Flight ET 320. It has emerged today that the black box data recorders from the aircraft will be sent abroad from Ethiopia for analysis. A spokesperson from Ethiopian Airlines confirmed to Reuters:  “There is no capacity here so the black box will be sent elsewhere for analysis. The investigation team will decide where.”

Boeing commented yesterday that the company will continue to engage with regulatory agencies and customers of the 737 Max to ensure “they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets. The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.” Boeing reiterated that safety is its number one priority but stressed that it has “full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX” although it understands that “regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets”.

US media reports state that President Donald Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke by telephone yesterday. The call was prompted, it is alleged, following Trump’s tweet about how flying has become too complicated. Trump tweeted:

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better,”

“Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!” he added.

The contents of the call have not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, airlines are counting the cost of the disruption caused by the temporary suspension of Max operations around the world.

Norwegian, which is perhaps the most affected by the EASA and UK bans, commented that it has ceased all Max operations, and all airborne aircraft were returned grounded at their destinations or they returned to base. The airline stated yesterday that it is “working on re-allocating our fleet options with other aircraft types, re-bookings to other flights and combining flights to minimise inconvenience caused for our passengers. We would like to apologise to customers who are affected, but the safety and security of our customers and colleagues will never be compromised”. The airline will, like others, seek to be compensated by Boeing.

TUI confirmed that has grounded its fleet of 15 Max 8 aircraft but will not need to cancel any flights nor lease any new aircraft to cover the gap since its existing fleet is large enough to cope with the change.

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw March 13, 2019 09:26