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Boeing crisis gets deeper as India joins others to ground 737 MAX jets

BS Web Team/New Delhi 13 Mar 19 | 08:37 AM


Roughly two-thirds of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the world have been pulled from use by airlines and aviation regulators after the deadly crash of a 737 MAX passenger plane in Ethiopia on Sunday. The swift actions by authorities around the world were driven in part by concerns about a connection to a similar disaster involving a Max 8 in Indonesia last October, when a Lion Air flight plunged into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 people aboard. The cause of Sunday's crash, which followed another disaster with a 737 MAX five months ago in Indonesia that killed 189 people, remains unknown.

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Countries that have banned/grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft

Eight of the top 10 countries with the highest number of airline passengers have either grounded or closed their skies to Boeing Co's 737 Max, with the United States and Japan being the exceptions.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it was suspending all flights in the bloc of Boeing's 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets. "Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models," it said in a statement.

India, China, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and others have temporarily suspended the plane.

Canada has no plans to ground 737 MAX aircraft but is ready to act immediately to suspend flights if new information emerges indicating there is a problem, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said.

Boeing 737 Max planes ban in India

Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday grounded 737 Max planes. “DGCA has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations," the regulator said in a tweet.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. While SpiceJet has 12 aircraft, Jet has five planes of this type.

ALSO READ: India joins global suspension wave; grounds all 18 Boeing 737 MAX planes

Earlier in the day, SpiceJet in a statement said: "The Boeing 737 MAX is a highly sophisticated aircraft. It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world's largest airlines are flying this aircraft."

Here’s what happened

On Sunday, March 10, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya crashed soon after taking off, killing all 157 people on board. It happened just months after a Lion Air flight taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, crashed in October, killing all 189 passengers.

The flights were the exact same model of planes, Boeing 737 Max.

The second crash over the weekend sent shockwaves across the world because there are multiples of the same such jets being utilized globally.

Victims from 30 nations

Given problems of identification at the charred disaster site, Ethiopian Airlines said it would take at least five days to start handing remains to families.

The victims came from more than 30 nations, and included nearly two-dozen UN staff.

What is a Boeing 737 Max aircraft?

The Boeing 737 Max fleet of aircraft is the latest in the company's successful 737 line. The group includes Max 7, 8, 9 and 10 models.

By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 of the Max 8 model out of 5,011 orders. A small number of Max 9s are also operating.

The Max 8 that crashed on Sunday was one of 30 ordered as part of Ethiopian Airlines' expansion. It underwent "rigorous first check maintenance" on 4 February, the airline said.

Technical Specs of Max 8

Seats (2-class): 162 – 178

Maximum seats: 210

Range nm (km): 3,550 (6,570)

Length: 39.52 m (129 ft 8 in)

Wingspan: 35.9 m (117 ft 10 in)

Engine: LEAP-1B from CFM International

Why has the US not grounded the aircrafts yet?

The US president, who owned his own airline, Trump Shuttle, from 1989 to 1992, is an aviation enthusiast. His aviation connections have expanded during his presidency to include relationships with powerful executives in the defense industry, including Boeing CEO Dennis A Muilenburg, with whom he has talked several times.

Muilenburg told Trump in Tuesday's morning call that the aircraft was safe and did not need to be grounded, two people briefed on the conversation said.

Later in the day, aviation officials repeated that US flights of the plane would continue.

That leaves the United States as an outlier in its response to Sunday's crash of a Boeing 737 MAX that killed 157 people.

The top 10 countries for air travel, according to the global airlines trade group International Air Transport Association: Rank Country

1 United States

2 China

3 UK

4 Spain

5 Japan

6 Germany

7 India

8 Italy

9 France

10 Indonesia

Three airlines in the United States and Canada – American, Southwest and Air Canada – have stuck by the Max 8, leaving them as the only carriers still flying large numbers of the jets.

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