Tuesday March 12, 2019 (RBB NEWS) – Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have been banned from UK airspace following an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, as multiple jets turn around mid-flight.
157 passengers and crew members were killed when one of the airline’s 737 Max 8 jets crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
The 737 MAX 8 is also the same type of plane that plunged into the Java Sea in Indonesia last October in similar circumstances, raising questions over the airworthiness of the relatively new jet that has only been in service since 2017.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority said the directive would remain in place until further notice. It affects multiple airlines, including Norwegian, TUI, Turkish Airlines, Icelandair, and Air Canada.
For some passengers already in the air when the ban was announced, this directive means they are landing at different airports – a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flying from Istanbul to Birmingham was refused entry into UK airspace early this afternoon and is returning to Turkey along with a Gatwick bound fligh.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane took off at 8:38am (0638 GMT) from Bole International Airport and lost contact six minutes later near Bishoftu, a town 37 miles southeast of Addis Ababa. The plane came down near the village of Tulu Fara.
At least nine Britons and one Irish citizen were among the dead, as were scientists, doctors, aid workers and three members of a Slovakian MP’s family.
A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said today: “Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the tragic incident in Ethiopia on Sunday.
“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 UK Civil Aviation Authority’s safety directive will be in place until further notice.
“We remain in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency ( EASA ) and industry regulators globally.”
It comes after this newspaper revealed today that victims’ families were calling for a ban of the planes.
The father of a young woman killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash has called on the British government to put “people before profit” and ground Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 planes.
Adrian Toole told The Telegraph that the aircraft should be banned from the skies until the cause of the disaster is discovered. His daughter Joanna, a 36-year-old UN worker, was one of 157 people killed when Flight ET302 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
Zipporah Kuria, 47, a cousin of another victim, 55-year-old Joseph Waithaka, said: “It’s wrong that the planes are not being grounded everywhere,” she told the Telegraph.
“They should get them out of the market until they have sorted the issue.”
Now both TUI and Norwegian Air have confirmed that they are not operating the aircraft in the UK, and TUI have said that no flights will be cancelled as a result of the ban.
A spokesperson for TUI said: “TUI Airways can confirm that all 737 MAX 8 aircraft currently operating in the UK have been grounded following the decision from the UK regulatory authorities today.
“Any customers due to fly home today on a 737 MAX 8 from their holiday will be flown back on another aircraft. Customers due to travel in the coming days will also travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff has remained our primary concern.”
Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting Chief Operating Officer said: “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 apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused, however, safety will always remain our top priority.”
It comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last night that it deemed the plane “airworthy” it continues ongoing oversight of Boeing’s control systems, which are thought to be a large contributor to the tragedy.
In November, the FAA issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive to Boeing following the Lion Air crash of the same aircraft in October.
The notice asked Boeing to update the international aviation community on any design changes made to the 737 Max jets following an inquiry into the crash in Indonesia where the plane was pushed into a nose-down position.
Boeing are now facing further questions over the aircraft flight control system that is suspected to have contributed to the Lion Air accident. Experts have since drawn similarities between the technicalities of the two crashes.
It also announced late last night it has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, developed in light of Indonesia crash.
The plane manufacturer now has until next month to submit design changes to the FAA as part of their ongoing safety monitoring which also includes oversight of Boeing’s training materials for pilots.
Boeing’s new system will be put into effect in the coming weeks, to “make an already safe aircraft even safer”.
However they said that no new safety guidance is planned as of now: “The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance.”