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Europeans join wave of Boeing suspensions after Ethiopia crash

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-03-13 02:03

A Boeing 737 Max 8 on display during an exhibition in Britain, July 13, 2016. [Photo/VCG]

BRUSSELS -- Many European countries announced on Tuesday to ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft following an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi, Kenya, crashed shortly after taking off from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane after an 2018 crash of the same model in Indonesia claimed 189 lives.

British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced to block the Boeing 737 MAX from any operator arriving, departing or overflying British airspace.

A spokesperson for the CAA said on Tuesday that they have taken a "precautionary measure", as they do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder.

"The Civil Aviation Authority's safety directive will be in place until further notice," the spokesperson said.

According to the CAA, there are currently five 737 MAX aircraft registered and operational in Britain. A sixth was planned to commence operations later this week.

Following Britain's move, the Hannover-headquartered world's largest travel group TUI has stopped all flights with the aircraft type, including all airlines in the group, said a spokesman.

Germany banned the flights by Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its airspace. German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told the broadcaster n-tv that "Security is absolute. Until all doubts have been cleared up, I have ordered that the German airspace is closed to all Boeing 737 MAX plane with immediate effect."

The German Transport Ministry said on Monday that there are no Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in operation by German airliners.

The government of Netherlands, Belgium and France's DGAC civil aviation authority also ordered its airspace closed for Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, while Austrian transport minister announced similar move until further notice.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has decided to temporarily suspend the operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Irish airspace with immediate effect.

The decision has been taken taking account of the unprecedented loss of two Boeing 737 MAX in recent months, and based on ensuring the continued safety of passengers and flight crew, which is the IAA's No.1 priority, IAA said in a statement.

On Monday, Italy's Codacons consumer association urged the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) to immediately ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes in use in Italy.

"In view of the preceding, wholly similar incident in Indonesia, and circulating reports on lack of pilot training in flight correction software, measures must be taken immediately to safeguard air transportation safety," said Codacons President Carlo Rienzi in a statement.

"We urgently call on ENAC to categorically ground all Boeing 737 Max planes present in Italian airports," Rienzi wrote, adding that Sardinia-based airline Air Italy "already has the model in its fleet, and has ordered a total of 20."

ENAC confirmed that Air Italy flies three Boeing 737 Max airplanes, which it "operates in full compliance" with Boeing and US Federal Aviation Administration requirements "issued after a similar incident took place in Indonesia."

Speaking to La Repubblica newspaper in an interview on Monday, veteran airline pilot Danilo Recine from the National Association of Civil Aviation Professionals (ANPAC) pointed out that, while the causes of the Ethiopian Airlines flight crash are still unknown, "it is possible" that the plane's sensors malfunctioned.

"In the Lion Air crash (in Indonesia) last year, some of the parameters sent to the cockpit, such as speed and altitude, were wrong. The machine reacted with countermeasures to correct something that was not happening in reality...and the pilots could not override the system manually. We could be looking at something similar."

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