More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX planes

More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX planes

The precautionary move follows the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX planes

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10.

Countries including Ethiopia, Singapore, China, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia have also temporarily suspended the 737 Max.

Some airlines, including Norwegian and Icelandair are also suspending operation of the planes for now.

However, US officials say the aircraft are still safe to fly.

A precautionary measure

A CAA statement said: "The UK Civil Aviation Authority 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 commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.”

The CAA said the safety directive will be in place until further notice.

The latest statement from Boeing said: “Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX.

"We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets.

"We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.

“The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

Boeing issues software enhancement

On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 crashed shortly after take-off from Nairobi on its way to Addis Ababa with 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.

It is the second crash involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model in recent months. In October, a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea off the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, killing all 189 onboard.

In the aftermath of the Lion Air crash, Boeing has developed a flight control “software enhancement” for the 737 MAX.  This includes updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. 

Boeing says the enhancement: “Incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabiliser trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabiliser command in order to retain elevator authority.”

The update will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.

A statement from Boeing said: “The FAA says it anticipates mandating this software enhancement with an Airworthiness Directive (AD) no later than April. We have worked with the FAA in development of this software enhancement.”

It noted: “It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time, and the required actions in AD2018-23.51 continue to be appropriate.”

Boeing added: “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.”

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