Britain, France and Germany became the latest countries on Tuesday to ban Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their airspace along with Australia, Singapore, Oman and Malaysia. While the US Federal Aviation Authority has refused to suspend the aircraft despite mounting pressure, the European Union and India have joined the long list of countries in grounding the plane.
The development comes two days after a similar Boeing model flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, including four Indians.
“As a precautionary measure UK has decided to stop any Boeing 737 MAX commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace,” the UK Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
This was closely followed by Germany. “Safety comes first. Until all doubts have been cleared up, I have ordered that German airspace be closed to all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with immediate effect,” Transport Minister Andreas Scheuerhe was quoted as saying by Reuters.
France’s DGAC civil aviation authority also said it was banning Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from French airspace. Two deadly crashes in a span of less than five months involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8, one of the most modern aircraft in the market, have also prompted several airliners across the globe to ground the jets.
On Tuesday, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico joined China and Indonesia in grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft as a precaution and to ensure their airworthiness.
Explained: Problem with Boeing 737 MAX
Norwegian, which operates 18 such planes, will keep them grounded pending advice from aviation authorities, AFP quoted operations chief Tomas Hesthammer as saying. South Korea, meanwhile, ordered the only airline in the country that deploys the jets to suspend operations of its two Boeing MAX 8s.
With this nearly 40 per cent of the in-service fleet of 371 Boeing 737 MAX jets is grounded, according to industry publication Flightglobal. That includes 97 jets in biggest market China.
While a preliminary cause for the plane going down in Addis Ababa is yet to be ascertained, investigators have recovered the black box of the Nairobi-bound aircraft, which was carrying passengers and crew from 35 countries — including some two dozen UN staff.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said the suspension will affect SilkAir, an arm of Singapore Airlines, as well as China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.
US will not ground Boeing 737 Max planes
The US aviation regulator said on Tuesday it would not ground Boeing Co 737 MAX planes, bucking a trend of countries around the world that have suspended the aircraft’s operations, Reuters reported.
The three US airlines using the 737 MAX – Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines – stood by the aircraft, although many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change flights or cancel.