More Airlines Halt Boeing 737 MAX 8 Flights

March 12, 2019

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The list of airlines and countries that have either stopped flying the Boeing 737 MAX 8 or prohibited them from using their airspace continues to grow, as safety fears mount after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday.

More Airlines Halt Boeing 737 MAX 8 Flights

China, India and Switzerland are among the list of countries that have put temporary stops on operating the aircraft in or over their territories.

North American carriers, however, have proved more resistant to the public pressure to ground the aircraft until more is known about the Ethiopian crash, and that of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 last year.

The biggest MAX 8 operator in the US, Southwest Airlines, said it remained fully confident in the aircraft and was closely monitoring the investigation.

American Airlines maintained its confidence in the aircraft, although its mechanics’ union wants the MAX 8 grounded.

Air Canada and WestJet are continuing to fly their MAX 8s, but Air Canada has cancelled a small number of flights due to the UK banning the aircraft from its airspace.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it is reviewing data and safety performance of the 737, but it was not grounding the aircraft.

“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action,” an FAA statement said.

Boeing also issued a statement saying safety is its number one priority, and stated its “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.”

Political pressure was beginning to mount with two US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Mitt Romney, calling for a temporary flight halt in the US.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the FAA should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness,” Romney tweeted.

Following Sunday's crash, Ethiopian Airlines was the first to temporarily suspend 737 MAX 8 flights. They were quickly followed by Cayman Airways and China's aviation regulator CAAC.

Since then Australia, Bermuda, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK have joined the list of jurisdictions suspending flights of the new aircraft.

Several airlines in countries that have not banned the aircraft have voluntarily stopped operating the 737 MAX including Aeromexico, South Africa's Comair, Fiji Airways, Miat Mongolian Airlines, Norwegian Air, and Russia’s S7 Airlines.