Tuesday 15 October 2019

Boeing 737 MAX suspended from flying within EU airspace after 157 killed in crash

A worker stands near a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane parked at Boeing Co.’s Renton Assembly Plant (Ted S Warren/AP)
A worker stands near a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane parked at Boeing Co.’s Renton Assembly Plant (Ted S Warren/AP)
Victim Michael Ryan

Kathy Armstrong and John Mulligan

ALL Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been suspended from flying within EU airspace, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

This follows Flight ET302 crashing shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people on board, including Irishman Michael 'Mick' Ryan.

The EASA said they are "taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of passengers."

"The accident investigation is led by the Ethiopian Authorities with the support of the National Transportation Safety Board, as the aircraft was designed and built in the United States. EASA has offered their assistance in supporting the accident investigation.

"EASA is continuously analysing the data as it becomes available. The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident," an EASA spokesperson said.

This comes after the Irish Aviation Authority announced earlier today that the Boeing 737 MAX has been temporarily banned from flying into or out of Irish airspace.

There are 13 Boeing 737 Max aircraft on the Irish aircraft register and the IAA said that concerns over the "safety of passengers and flight crew" prompted their decision.

They said in a statement: "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, in the light of the two fatal accidents involving the aircraft in recent months.

"This decision has been taken based on ensuring the continued safety of passengers and flight crew, which is the IAA’s number one priority. "

The IAA's temporary suspension came into affect from 3pm today.

"The IAA’s decision has been made taking account of the unprecedented loss of two Boeing 737 MAX in recent months. 

"The IAA has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any flights on Boeing 737 MAX from any operator arriving, departing or overflying Irish airspace.

"During the temporary suspension, the IAA will continue to work closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the manufacturer Boeing," the IAA spokesperson said.

There are about 387 of the 737 Max 8 aircraft in service around the world, including 74 in the United States and 55 in Europe. Scandinavian airline Norwegian has a number of the aircraft types in service that are registered in Ireland.

Norwegian Air, which flies from Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports to the US, has temporarily suspends flights with the Boeing 737 Max.

"Following the decision by the relevant aviation regulatory bodies to temporarily suspend operations of Boeing 737 MAX, Norwegian will not operate any flights with this aircraft type until further notice. We remain in close dialogue with the aviation authorities and Boeing, and follow their instructions and recommendations."

Norwegian has 18 of the 737 Max in its fleet, which is mostly made up of 110 Boeing 737–800 aircraft not affected by the suspension.

Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting chief operating officer said the airline not use its 737 Max until further notice from safety regulators.

"In response to the temporary suspension of Being 737 MAX operations by multiple aviation authorities we have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type, until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities. We would like to apologize to customers for any inconvenienced caused, however, safety will always remain our top priority."

During the past two days, the UK, Australia, Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Mexico, South Korea, India, Caymen Islands, Brazil have grounded their Boeing 737 Max fleets.

157 people were killed when the jet crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday morning, including Michael Ryan, an Irish father-of-two based in Rome with the UN’s World Food Programme, which distributes rations to people in need.

As many as 19 UN workers were feared to have been killed in the crash, the number being so high because of its environmental forum which started on Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will not ground the Boeing 737 MAX that has been involved in two fatal crashes since October despite a growing number of countries ordering the planes to stop flying.

Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said its "review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft." He added that no foreign civil aviation authorities have "provided data to us that would warrant action."

He added if any safety issues are identified during the ongoing "urgent review" of Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines crash it will "take immediate and appropriate action."

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News