Taiwan joins countries in halting Boeing flights

PROVISIONAL::The airworthiness directive is subject to change pending results of a probe into the Ethiopian Airlines crash, and would only affect Thai Lion Air

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 2

Taiwan has joined other nations around the world in suspending all commercial operations of Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the nation’s territory, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) announced yesterday.

The “airworthiness directive” took effect at 7pm, Flight Standards Division Director Clark Lin (林俊良) said, adding that it is a preventive measure and is subject to change depending on the results of an investigation into the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 jet and subsequent recommendations from Boeing.

Budget airline Thai Lion Air is the only carrier that uses 737 Max aircraft for flights to Taiwan, Lin said.

None of the nation’s carriers have the Max 8 or Max 9 in their fleets, the agency said.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced airworthiness notifications for the Max 8 after crashes involving an Indonesian Lion Air plane in October last year and an Ethiopian Airlines plane on Sunday.

On Nov. 7 last year, it issued an “emergency airworthiness directive,” then an airworthiness directive on Dec. 11, followed by a “continued airworthiness notification to the international community” on Monday.

If the aircrafts’ maneuvering characteristics augmentation system receives an erroneously high angle-of-attack sensor input, there is potential for repeated nose-down commands of the horizontal stabilizer, the FAA said, adding the condition would made it difficult for pilots to control the plane.

The FAA also asked flight crew to take emergency action to address the problem by consulting a revision of the airplanes’ flight manuals.

The nation issued the airworthiness directive after the FAA and EU Aviation Safety Agency issued similar directives, the CAA said.

The FAA’s directive on Monday said that Boeing is updating the maneuvering system software, meaning that the system still poses potential flight risks.

“Even though aviation officials are still investigating the causes of the crash on Sunday, both aircraft models have exposed flight crew to the danger of losing control,” the CAA said.

“As the aircrafts’ safety flight risks remain and are unable to be addressed in the short term, and because there is no evidence to prove the effectiveness of Boeing’s proposed software updates, we thereby issue this airworthiness directive to ensure flight safety,” it said.