Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 1 News List

UK grounds Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft; Europe set to follow


Women mourn at the Ethiopian Pilot Association Club in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday during a memorial ceremony for the seven crew members who died in the Ethiopian Airlines accident.

Photo: AFP

Europe was preparing to ban flights using Boeing Co’s 737 Max aircraft in a move that could trigger a global grounding of the jet after a crash in Ethiopia on Sunday raised questions about the aircraft’s safety.

Britain’s aviation regulator has already taken action. In the absence of sufficient information from the crashed airplane’s flight-data recorder, the Civil Aviation Authority has issued instructions “to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) plans to take a similar step shortly, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named before an announcement.

While jurisdictions including China, Australia and Singapore had already grounded the Max, the spread of the ban to Europe comes as a major blow to Boeing as it grapples with the aftermath of the African tragedy.

Britain is the third-biggest aviation market worldwide, while EASA is one of the industry’s two biggest regulators along with the US Federal Aviation Administration.

After China on Monday became the first major market to halt takeoffs and landings of Boeing’s latest single-aisle model, groundings quickly cascaded around the globe.

Singapore barred all 737 Max flights in and out of the city-state, a move that was followed by Australia.

Elsewhere in Asia, a South Korean carrier suspended its 737 Max airplanes, while two airlines in Latin American also halted operations of the aircraft, which entered service just a few years ago and has become Boeing’s fastest-selling model, with nearly 4,700 orders.

Now, the suspensions have put about a third of the 350-strong global fleet out of action.

In a sign that the tragedy in Ethiopia threatens to become a commercial fiasco for Boeing, launch customer Lion Air is said to be considering a complete switch to Airbus SE aircraft, a person familiar with the discussions said, with the carrier suspending further 737 Max deliveries this year.

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