EASA suspends all flights in the bloc of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 and 9

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EU has suspended Boeing 737 MAX flights, U.S. senators suggest similar move following the crash. 

March 12, 2019.

The European Union’s aviation safety regulator, EASA, has suspended all flights in the bloc of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets in the wake of the  crash. crash site

Britain, Germany and France have suspended the 737 MAX  and were swiftly followed by a similar decision by India.

China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and others have also joined a wave of suspensions of the 737 MAX aircraft.

The decision by some countries to ban not only arrivals and departures but flights crossing through their airspace surprised some regulatory sources even in regions banning the plane, since overflights are usually protected by international law.

Pressure is thus piling up on the United States to take similar action. The U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican who chairs the Senate subcommittee on aviation and space, suggested the United States should follow suit.

The U.S. Senator has said that it would be “prudent” for the United States “to temporarily ground 737 Max aircraft until the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) confirms the safety of these aircraft and their passengers.”

Two other senators, Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, asked the FAA to temporarily ground the 737 MAX.

EASA’s statement: “Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models.”

Also Read: FAA’s statement‘No basis’ to ground 737 Max: FAA

EASA has not cancelled the safety certification for the plane. By just restricting its use by airlines, its move leaves some room for the U.S., the FAA and Boeing to decide their lines of action.

The U.S. based plane maker Boeing has the EU based Airbus as its competitor.

Boeing, the world’s biggest plane maker, has said that it understood the countries’ actions but retained “full confidence” in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.

It also said the FAA had not demanded any further action related to 737 MAX operations.

The new variant of the 737 is the world’s most-sold modern passenger aircraft. The 737 is viewed as the go-to plane for several airlines. 4,661 more planes are on order.

Following the crash, concerns and anxiety have crept in travelers. They are now reluctant to fly on 737 MAX planes, are rushing to find out from social media and travel agents on which plane they are booked to fly on.

So far, nearly 40 percent of the 737 MAX fleet around the world has been grounded due to safety concerns, though major customers including top airlines still use older jets. 24 airline operators of the MAX planes have together grounded 140 such airplanes, either voluntarily or following orders by their country’s civil aviation authority.

As a result, Boeing has seen $26.65 billion wiped off its market value following the crash. Its shares fell 6.1 percent bringing losses to 11.15 percent since the crash- the steepest two-day decline for the stock since July 2009.

The cause of the crash, which followed the Lion Air crash involving a 737 MAX in October 2018 in Indonesia that killed 189 people, remains unknown. If the black box recordings found at the Ethiopian crash site are okay, the clues to the cause of the crash could be identified soon. Even then, it would take more than a year for a full probe to complete and arrive at a conclusion.

Plane experts say it is premature now to speculate on the cause for the crash. There is also no proof yet whether there was any connection between the two crashes.  Most mishaps are caused by a unique combination of human and technical factors.

The United States has said it remains safe to fly the planes but Cruz said he intends to convene a hearing to investigate the crashes. The US FAA has said that it has not received sufficient proof to warrant an order to ground the US fleet of Max aircraft.

Statement of former FAA accident investigator Mike Daniel:

“The decision by regulators to ground the planes was premature. To me it’s almost surreal how quickly some of the regulators are just grounding the aircraft without any factual information yet as a result of the investigation.”

Many airlines from North America did not ground the 737 MAX. Southwest Airlines Co, which operates the largest fleet of 737 MAX 8s, said it remained confident in the safety of all its Boeing planes. The type’s three largest operators – Southwest (34), Air Canada (24) and American Airlines (24) – have said they will continue flying the plane.