Australia’s aviation safety regulator has banned all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from flying in or out of the country following two deadly accidents in the last five months.
The move from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority brings Australia into line with a growing number of countries that have grounded the brand new passenger jet.
Overnight the European Union Aviation Safety Authority banned all flights in Europe, following similar moves from European nations the UK, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.
New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority followed suit this afternoon, joining fellow Southeast Asian countries China, Singapore and Malaysia.
The bans come on the back of a second accident involving the brand new commercial jet in five months. An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on a flight to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board.
The same model aircraft flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air came down shortly after take off from Jakarta in October. All 189 people on board were killed.
Boeing has since issued a statement saying that it will release new flight control software that it’s been working on since the first crash.
“Boeing has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks,” the company statement said.
The FAA has so far resisted pressure from its international peers to ban the US manufactured jet from flying. The aviation regulator has also come under pressure from the White House, with US President Donald Trump tweeting “Airplanes are becoming too complex to fly.”
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019
Only Singapore’s SilkAir and Fiji Airlines have been impacted by CASA’s move in Australia. Virgin Australia has 40 MAX aircraft on order, but stressed it will not introduce any aircraft to its fleet until it’s absolutely satisfied with its safety.
CASA apologised to Australian travellers, adding that it’s keeping a close eye on events in the US.
“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from Australia” CASA’s CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody said in a statement.
“CASA is closely monitoring the situation and the suspension will be reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available from Boeing, the United States Federal Aviation Administration and accident investigators,” said Mr Carmody.
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