Australia has joined China, the UK, Malaysia & other nations in banning the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from its airspace after the aircraft was involved in two fatal crashes within a six-month period.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announced the temporary suspension late Tuesday, saying the ban would remain in place until more information can be provided on the Boeing 737 MAX 8s safety risks.

The aircraft’s suspension in Australian airspace came a few days after an Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed six minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. The same model aircraft fatally went into the Java Sea five months earlier when it was 13 minutes into a Lion Air service.

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The airline’s Chief Executive at the crash site on Sunday.

China was the first nation to ban the trouble Boeing from its airspace and was quickly joined by those in Ethiopia, the Caymans, the UK, Malaysia and now Australia.

“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.”

Shane Carmody, CASA Chief Executive & Director of Aviation Safety

“CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first.”

While there are currently no Australian airlines operating the Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Virgin Australia has an order to 30 currently in place), two foreign airlines – SilkAir and Fiji Airways – fly these aircraft to Australia.

Singapore’s SilkAir has temporarily grounded their 737 MAX aircraft and Fiji Airways alongside the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji decided this morning to temporarily ground its fleet of 737 MAX planes until “more information is known about the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines accident”.

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In a joint statement, Fiji Airways and Fiji’s aviation leaders said they have full confidence in the aircraft and in the pilots and enginees who operate them. However, grounding the model seemed the most appropriate response after hearing the general public’s concerns and seeing positions taken by regulators in the region.

“Fiji Airways is hopeful of a smooth transition with minimal disruption to passengers. We will have the capacity to manage the change of aircraft type. This process has gone into immediate effect and we intend to operate schedules as planned. However any changes will be communicated to passengers.”

Fiji Airways Spokesperson

The Australian aviation authority noted that it is monitoring the situation and will review the suspension when more information is available from Boeing, the US Federal Aviation Administration and accident investigators.

 

BOEING’S RESPONSE TO SAFETY CONCERNS

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Boeing responded to people’s growing concerns, explaining in an online statement that safety is always a “number one priority” for the manufacturer and that it has “full confidence” in the 737 MAX.

The 103-year-old company said that it is engaging with regulatory agencies and customers around the world by providing them the information they need to resume operations of the model.

Boeing also noted that following the fatal Lion Air crash in October last year, it developed a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX to “make an already safe aircraft even safer”.

The program included updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.

Working alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the manufacturer will deploy the software upgrade to the existing 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.

“The 737 MAX is a safe airplane that was designed, built and supported by our skilled employees who approach their work with the utmost integrity.”

Boeing

Click here to read Boeing’s full statement.

 

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